BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thailand is deploying thousands of soldiers in the nation's forests to guard against rampant illegal logging, army officers said Thursday.

The move follows a series of scandals in which civil authorities, including Forestry Department officials, have colluded with loggers in the illegal timber trade.

Forestry authorities maintain that the illegal logging crews have better equipment and are better armed than the forest rangers whose task it is to track down and arrest them.

Thailand has banned hardwood logging since 1989. But the lucrative trade in teak continues in collusion among loggers, officials and politicians.

In two recent scandals, Thai logs worth millions of dollars were illegally cut and shipped across the border to Myanmar, stamped to show they originated in Myanmar and sent back to Thailand to look as though they were imports.