By Seksanti Kalayanawisut
Acting Udon Thani police chief Pol Colonel Woranat Phanphon told the press on Sunday that the four suspects – identified as Deddiew Phajuang, 45, Pud Janthaboon, 50, Sirichai Phuluang, 45, and Walaporn Mulcha, 44 – allegedly belonged to a gang that supplied the logs to a neighbouring country.
The suspects were arrested and found with six Siamese rosewood logs, a van, a pickup, a battery-powered drill and an adze while processing the logs in a rice field in Tambon Om Kor on Friday night.
They were accused of cutting down a 11-metre-tall Siamese rosewood tree belonging to Ban Kham Hai Wittaya School in Kalasin’s Nong Kung Si district on the night of October 11 and fleeing in a pickup truck.
The suspects reportedly admitted to police that they had been hired to cut down and process the tree by an unnamed investor. They face charges of colluding to illegal logging, having in possession a legally protected Siamese rosewood, transporting and hiding the illegal items (Siamese rosewood logs) as well as taking methamphetamine pills after they allegedly tested positive in a drug test.
The logs in question were estimated to be worth Bt67,000 – which would be worth 10 times more – about Bt670,000 – if successfully smuggled for sale in a neighboring country, police said.
The charge of cutting down protected Siamese rosewood trees is punishable with 1-20 years’ imprisonment and Bt50,000-Bt2 million in fine, police warned.