Chinese customs officers in Shanghai seized a huge haul of more than 1,000 kg of cocaine from South America that was en route to Cambodia late last year, according to a Cambodian anti-drug officer.
In Song, administration bureau chief at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tipped off both Cambodian and Chinese authorities to the trafficking, which resulted in the drugs being seized in China and one arrest being made in Cambodia.
The bust took place late last year, but was not made public because the police were investigating the case, according to Mr. Song. He confirmed that Cambodian police had arrested the Vietnamese owner of a fish imports company at the Bavet International Checkpoint in Svay Rieng province as the man was attempting to flee across the border to Vietnam.
The man was charged with drug trafficking and is currently being held at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, Mr. Song added. He said he did not remember the man’s name and, as it was the weekend, did not have the arrest documents on hand.
The drugs were found in a container loaded with fish shipped from Ecuador bound for Sihanoukville, he said.
Four Vietnamese men were suspected of being involved in the drug trafficking ring and the three other suspects—one of them a dual Canadian citizen—remain at large, Mr. Song said.
The English-language Shanghai Daily on Friday reported that Chinese customs officers had seized the cocaine in containers declared as “frozen Pacific mackerel” from South America.
It quoted authorities in China describing the bust as “the biggest cocaine smuggling haul found in China in recent years.”
Cambodia was likely not the final destination for the drugs, Mr. Song said, an assertion backed by a U.N. report released this month, which noted that Cambodia has been “frequently targeted by transnational drug trafficking groups.” The report said 5.3 kg of cocaine had been seized in Cambodia in all of 2015.
“Cambodia is located in the center [of the region], which makes it easy for storing and distributing to neighboring countries,” Mr. Song said.