VietNamNet Bridge, 4 June 2015
More and more wood is being smuggled across the southwestern border. Smuggling prevention agencies said they had discovered many consignments of wood illegally imported from Laos and Cambodia across the border.
Smuggling has been more serious in recent days as the rainy season is coming. Any area along the southwestern border, from Dak Lak to Kien Giang provinces, could be a “hot spot” for wood smuggling. If the spots are detected, smugglers will relocate their storehouses to other sites. Though many smuggling cases have been discovered, it cannot be stopped because of the high profits earned. Under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), Vietnam earlier this year announced that it had halted licensing the import of Dalbergia Cambodiana wood from Thailand and Cambodia since January 1, 2015. As for Dalbergia Cambodiana from Laos, CITES Vietnam said it would only allow the imports if importers can show documents provided by CITES Laos proving the legal origin of the wood. The tightened control over wood imports has led to the cross-border smuggling boom.
An official of the Long An provincial Customs Agency said the area between Vietnam’s southern province of Long An and Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province was a “hot spot” for smugglers. In late March 2015, the Long An provincial Customs Agency’s officials ambushed a truck departing from the border area and chased it until it reached the central province of Thanh Hoa.
The truck driver, who was carrying eight cubic meters of Dalbergia Cambodiana and Dalbergia oliveri wood, could not show documents to prove the legal origin of the wood. On May 8, the Dong Thap provincial Customs Agency caught Ngo Van Phuc and Ngo Van Tre carrying dozens of planks (2 cubic meters) on the ferry. Tre said he bought the wood in Cambodia to bring it to Vietnam to build his house. However, he could not prove the origin of the wood. The local police and border police have also discovered timber transportation across the border.
In early May, two Vietnamese men were caught carrying a consignment of precious wood worth VND250 million from Cambodia to Tay Ninh province. According to CITES Vietnam Director Do Quang Tung, Dalbergia Cambodiana can be found in four countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The trees will disappear in the future if no measure is taken to stop the overexploitation.