Checkpoint China: The shadowy world of timber smuggling

Looking back, it just seemed natural for Aung Tin Oo* to become a timber smuggler. Especially given that he hails from a central trading point in Myanmar near Mandalay.

Timber smuggling has long been a hot business there, and Oo’s friends and uncles were doing it at the time. They assured him that it was the “get-rich” fast path. That was the start of a four-year smuggling career.

Oo is now retired and in his mid-40’s. He began as a smuggler who would occasionally bring timber along while working as a taxi driver. Then he worked up to owning three small cars for timber smuggling, then to a mini van, and finally to an actual trader.