Raids on rosewood cartel premises

Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) officials, police and soldiers launched raids in five northeastern provinces on Friday morning against a network of illegal rosewood loggers and traders.

The descended on 20 locations, searching houses, garages, used car dealers' premises and shops in Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Amnat Charoen, Mukdahan and Kalasin provinces.

Amlo secretary-general Seehanat Prayoonrat said the raids targeted assets of an illegal rosewood cartel led by Pakin Siriwarom, also known as Suparp Upara and Sia Parp, and nine associates in the five provinces.

He said gang gathers rosewood from illegal loggers in the region and smuggles the timber into Laos. 

The cartel used modified cars and four-wheel-drive pickup trucks from used car dealerships to transport the rosewood. The vehicles were fitted with pulleys to help load the timber and the pickup trucks had seats removed to expand the space available to carry the wood.

Pol Col Seehanat said a wood smuggling convoy usually consisted of four vehicles.

The first vehicle scouted the route ahead. The second one carried the rosewood. The third vehicle was backup.

The fourth vehicle was driven by a former paramilitary ranger and the people in it were armed with military weapons, the Amlo secretary-general said. 

He said on the occasions the vehicles were seized, the used car dealers involved claimed they had previously sold them.

After the raids, Pol Col Seehanat said that the seizure included assets worth about 100 million baht including a number of luxury cars used in the illicit business.

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