Police in the central province of Khanh Hoa arrested three local officers
for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars in rare wood during an old-fashioned wood rush last year.
A report on Tuoi Tre Friday quoted Col. Nguyen Kim Thanh, spokesman of the Khanh Hoa Police Department, as saying that Nguyen Hong Ha, 46, Vu Anh Trung, 35, and Tran Le Kien, 29, all officers of Khanh Son District police division, were arrested on charges of abuse of power.
Initial police reports said that the officers confiscated a quantity of Calambac, a rare and expensive fragrant wood, from local people who found it in the Gop Nga forest.
The finding in Son Trung Commune, Khanh Son District, occurred in September last year.
The stolen timbers were said to be worth "many" billions of dong (VND1 billion is the equivalent of US$47,300).
Earlier, local wood hunters had accused Khanh Son police and forest rangers of seizing 1.5 kilograms of timber from them. The hunters had been tasked by local authorities with stopping thousands of people who were trying to enter the forest to search for the wood.
The rush was triggered in mid-September by rumors of a man earning tens of billions of dong after selling some wood he found there.
Following the exposure, the accused officials reportedly submitted over VND1 billion they earned from selling the wood to local authorities.
Khanh Hoa police are investigating the case.
Calambac is the dark resinous heartwood that forms in Aquilaria crassna (Agar Wood) trees when they become infected with a type of mold. It demands premium prices because it is believed to bring good luck to its owner, if not the finder, and to have the capacity to treat some incurable diseases.
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