Pattaya Daily News

02 May 2013 :: 16:05:25 pm 74311

Shady Rubber Tree Growers Invade Rayong Forest

An illegal rubber tree farm located in a remote mountain area in Rayong was raided by 20 armed law enforcement officials. The squatters had cleared a large area of forest to grow rubber trees. They also used guns to threaten local residents and officials.
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May 1, 2013, at 10 a.m., armed law enforcement officers and government officials raided an illegal rubber tree farm in a remote forest area high on a Rayong mountain.

Participating in the raid were Pol. Lt. Col. Chaidit Panyameuansakul, Inspector, Nong Krub police station, together with Mr. Prasit Kokkhunthod, assistant district office of Baan Khai, Mr. Somchai Meesaeng, the director of co-operative Chawae, Mr. Phinyo Janthanatarn, the head of protecting and preserving forest unit at Rayong 2 Baan Khai, Mr. Narate Saengaroon, the village head, Moo 9 Tambon Nongbua, and the government officers of Rayong province.

The mobilized forces of 20 officers with guns used 4-wheel-drive vehicles to go up to the Phanomsart mountain area Moo 4, Moo 9 Tambon Nongbua, Amphur Baan Khai, which connects to the area of Moo 7 Tambon Payoobnai, Amphur Wangjan.

Officials had been receiving complaints that there was an invasive cutting of the trees in the forest for many hundreds of rais on the top of the mountain, about 480 meters above the sea level and located in an area very difficult to access.

When arriving at the top of the mountain, officers found there had been the cutting of the trees in the forest for many hundreds rais in order to grow the rubber trees. They also found the traces of the cutting of big hardwood trees with chainsaws. The squatters then used the cut wood to build more than 10 houses in the cleared area.

Officers seized the oil that was used to refill the electric saw, and confiscated 7 tanks, 30 liters per tank; and 2 gas tanks, size 16 kg; and 2 electric generators.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chaidit said people were complaining that the illegal entrepreneurs went up to the top of mountain to cut the trees in the forest, and grew rubber trees in an area approximately more than 100 rais, which is under the jurisdiction of the Chawae co-operative.

So he mobilized forces of officers to go up to inspect the area on April 18. Officers arrested 2 Cambodian workers, and seized 1 gun and 1 electric saw. They charged the suspects with possessing a gun without permission and being illegal immigrants, and sent them to prosecute.

But 2 days later, a man who claimed to be the owner of the farmed area used a gun to threaten the forest officers, the government officers and local people, and forbid them to testify against or implicate them.
However, the police had the evidences to prosecute the illegal squatter growers, with witnesses, photographs and other evidence obtained with yesterday’s raid.

Within 7 days, the police will ask for the court to issue the arrest warrant to arrest all of the illegal squatters who invaded the forest, and will use the resources of the Chawae co-operative to demolish their buildings.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chaidit also said the local people were scared of the violent squatters, and no one dared to deal with them. They were afraid because the lawless growers had many types of guns to shoot any unauthorized trespassers in their area.

So the police commander had the officers wear armor and take guns while conducting the raid. Pol. Lt. Col. Chaidit confirmed that he will prosecute the lawbreakers as much as possible, and if there are other criminals commanding him to stop, he is ready to inform King Bhumiphol further.

Mr. Somchai Meesaeng, the director of co-operative Chawae, said that the area of Phanomsart mountain is under the charge of the co-operative Chawae, and encompasses an area of approximately 10,000 rais.

This area of forest allows people to work in the area. But the area was invaded by the squatters for many hundreds of rais. The illegal capitalists invaded an area of more than 10,000 rais to grow rubber trees and seized the government land to be their own land.

He continued to say that the punishment of law of the illegal co-operative is not severe: only a fine not more than 1,000 THB, or 6 months of imprisonment, or being both fined and sentenced to jail.

So the authorities need to use other related laws to punish the criminals, such as forest conservation laws, and criminal laws. Initially, he will gather all evidence to notify the police to prosecute, and let the accused pay for the damage costs of the forest further.

Reporter : Nattaphummint   Photo : Nattaphummint   Category : Crime News

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