Hong Kong Customs reported it had seized seven containers containing HK$1.1 million (US$140,000) worth of wood that arrived from Cambodia between April 29 and May 5, saying it was the largest cache of protected wood the department had caught in the past five years.
The containers were found at two ports in Hong Kong — the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound and the Tsing Yi Customs Cargo Examination Compound — over a weeklong period, according to a Customs Department press release from last week. Hong Kong officials selected the seven containers for inspection after conducting a risk assessment, the statement said.
They had arrived from Cambodia and contained 211 tons of an “endangered species” of wood, it said.
Customs passed the case to Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which said it was investigating the case but could not disclose details “at this moment to avoid compromising the investigation.”
Environment Ministry spokesperson Neth Pheaktra referred questions about this case to the Agriculture Ministry, and Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said he had not heard about the case.
Cambodia has banned exports of logs since 1996, but exports through the land border with Vietnam have been well documented by forest activists and large international organizations. Under Hong Kong law, any person charged with importing or exporting an endangered species could receive up to HK$10 million (US$1.29 million) in fines and up to 10 years’ prison time.
Updated at 6:20 p.m. with comment from the Hong Kong Agriculture Department.