A joint taskforce suppressing forest crimes, led by the Forest Protecting Operation Centre (FPOC0, late Monday night seized more than 300 planks of hardwood (Pratu) as well as nearly 20 logs from a wood processing factory in Udon Thani.
The raid was part of an ongoing sting operation to suppress the activities of one of the largest Chinese-led logging gangs active in the country.
The FPOC’s Phayak Prai taskforce chief, Cheewapap Cheewatham, said on Tuesday that the operation followed a series of raids over the past months that had revealed the extent of the network of logging gang members led by Chinese nationals under the leadership of so-called “Mu Lan”.
One Chinese national was arrested in August during a raid in Praksa in Samut Prakan, where a senior Thai military official was also found to have had a role in a warehouse rental related to the logging gang’s activities.
Nearly 10 forestry officials were found to have been involved and were punished following the orders of the FPOC’s director, Attapol Charoenshunsa, who is also the Royal Forestry Department’s deputy chief.
The raids have prompted Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat to instruct the taskforce to expand its investigations in order to get the masterminds, including Mu Lan, whose whereabouts remain elusive.
Cheewapap, meanwhile, said the freshly seized logs would be examined to establish their origin, before the force expanded its operation into other provinces suspected of having more logs hidden.
(Source: – The Nation,Thailand)