Deep South authorities believe individuals involved in the severe encroachment of forests in the three southernmost provinces are connected with the insurgent group the government has been fighting for the past decade.
Colonel Jatuporn Klumpasut of the International Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 revealed that deforestation had been an ongoing issue in the restive south since 2011.
In remote forests where encroachment activities were found, authorities were able to collect DNA evidence to help them identify individuals trespassing into the forests even though they had already escaped arrest.
More than 3,600 rai of forest areas in the Deep South and four districts of Songkhla province have been encroached upon. With damage occurring as a result of illegal logging coupled with water shortages, Col Jatuporn cited the need to launch a swift reforestation process in these areas.
He added that those arrested for illegal logging in Narathiwat province were hired by people associated with the southern insurgent group. Col Jatuporn said he believed both groups had common interests and had been orchestrating illegal logging in the south.