|Phan Hữu Phượng, leader of the illegal logging and smuggling ring in the central province of Đắk Nông stands trial on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo|
ĐẮK NÔNG — The head and deputy head of Buôn Đôn District’s Forest Protection Department have been jailed for their involvement in an illegal logging and wood smuggling operation.
They were part of a 25-strong gang convicted by The People's Court of the central province of Đắk Nông.
On Thursday sentences were handed down to the criminals for a variety of offences, including violating regulations on forest exploitation and protection, bribery, taking bribes and abusing positions and powers while on duty.
The ring was led by Phan Hữu Phượng, a wood merchant living in Cư Jút District.
The court heard how in early 2017, Phượng and Nguyễn Thành Kiệt took advantage of winning an auction of more than 640cu.m of wood from Yók Đôn National Park in Đắk Lắk Province to then illegally chop down a further 900cu.m from protected areas.
The timber would be transported to Cư Jút to be sold on.
More than 900cu.m of timber was illegal chopped down, but the authorities managed to recover more than two thirds of it, worth around VNĐ3 billion (US$129,460).
Phương and Kiệt contacted Lê Quang Thái, head of the Mobile Forest Protection Team No1 to enlist his support in their criminal enterprise.
Meanwhile, Nguyễn Hoàng Trang’s role in the criminal enterprise was to hand over cash bribes to senior officials.
She gave VNĐ250 million ($10,788) to Thái and VNĐ155 million ($6,688) to Bùi Văn Khang and Hà Thăng Long, head and deputy head of the Forest Protection Department of Buôn Đôn District
Phượng was sentenced eight years and six months in jail, Nguyễn Thành Kiệt was given eight years and Nguyễn Hoàng Trang six months in jail for violating regulations on forest exploitation and protection and bribery.
Lê Quang Thái was sentenced seven years in prison and four other officials Nguyễn Lợi, Nguyễn Tấn Bình, Bùi Văn Hiệp and Phạm Văn Hồng were given between two years and three years for receiving bribes.
Bùi Văn Khang was sentenced two years behind bars and Hà Thăng Long one year and six months for abusing positions and powers while on duty. — VNS