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Head of mobile ranger team admits receiving bribe

Authorities in the Central Highland province of Dak Nong on Monday confirmed they had started criminal proceedings against the head of a forest ranger team for his involvement in the illegal logging and trafficking of hundreds of cu.m of timber.

Police meet people who work for Phan Huu Phuong at a tent built in Yok Don National Park.
Police meet people who work for Phan Huu Phuong at a tent built in Yok Don National Park.

Le Quang Thai, 49, has been charged with abuse of power after turning a blind eye to timber being transported by Long Vu Company in Cư Jút District. An investigation into the company started in April this year, resulting the arrest of owner Phan Huu Phuong, known as “Moustache Phượng”, a resident of EaT’ling Town, in May.

Phuong alledgedly bribed Thai to ignore the illegal timber trafficking.

Thai admitted to investigators that he received VND120 million (US$5,100) from an employee of Thao Truc Company.

On April 27, police and border guard officers in Dak Nong found 40.2 cu.m. of timber being carried away by two trucks from Yok Don National Park on the border of Dak Nong and Dak Lak.

The two truck drivers – Tran Luu Lan and Ho Trong Dung – failed to present legitimate documents specifying the origin of the timber. They told police that the timber was being taken to a workshop belonging to Long Vu Company in Cư Jút District.

Investigators searched five locations where the illicit ring stored their timber and confiscated nearly 210cu.m of wood as well as multiple trucks, cars, tractors and chainsaws.

On May 3, Dak Nong Police initiated legal proceedings against five members involved in the operation, including Phuong.

The suspects were charged with violating regulations on the exploitation, protection and management of forest products under Article 232 of the Penal Code.

Last month, the provincial People’s Procuracy started legal proceedings against Bui Van Khang, head of the Forest Protection Division in Cư M’gar District as he was head of Buon Don District’s Forest Protection Division from 2008 to 2017.

Vice head of Buon Don District’s Forest Protection Division, Ha Thang Long, is also being investigated for abuse of power.