Twenty-eight Cambodians and a Thai were arrested yesterday and charged with illegal entry, and cutting rosewood trees in Thap Larn national park in Nadee district of Prachinburi province.
The Cambodians were rounded up by a combined force of police, soldiers, national park officials and defense volunteers after they fled on foot from the park after hearing gun shooting between Thai authorities and their armed guards.
Thai authorities were deployed around two jungle routes to the park where they believed the Cambodian smugglers would use to escape after cutting rosewood trees.
As the combined force moved in to the park, it was spotted by armed guards protecting the Cambodians in cutting the trees.
A brief gun battle broke out and the Cambodian smugglers fled downhill to a place where truck would be on a wait to drive them back to the Cambodian border.
The arrested Cambodians admitted that they came in a large group of 60 men by a hirer who promised to pay 200 baht per ton of eucalyptus trees in the Thai border.
They split in two groups, one would cut the trees, and another would load them on trucks.
They said they didn’t know the trees they were paid to cut are rosewoods.
They were only told that they would have to spend about two weeks to finish the job and they have to prepare enough food to eat while working in the jungle.
Police said the Thai was arrested while driving the truck to pick up the fleeing Cambodians.
The Thai driver said he was paid 3,000 baht to drive them to Aranyaprathet border.
Police said they were investigating to find out the financier of this rosewood smuggling gang.