Military police in Phnom Penh are investigating a prison-based drug syndicate headed by three foreign nationals, officials said Thursday, three days after they caught a local man with more than 3 kg of methamphetamine he had been ordered to distribute throughout the city.
The man, 32-year-old Dy Thoura, was arrested near the base of the Chroy Changva bridges in Russei Keo district, according to deputy district military police commander Pou Davy.
“We arrested the suspect and then continued to investigate and confiscated the drugs from his house,” Mr. Davy said, adding that the haul amounted to 3.1 kg of crystal meth and 103,600 methamphetamine pills.
National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said authorities had since linked Mr. Thoura to a group of five men—two “black men,” a Vietnamese national and two Cambodians—who oversaw a major meth-distribution ring from prison. He declined to say where the men were incarcerated, citing the sensitive nature of the ongoing probe, but explained that all five were serving time for drug trafficking.
Brigadier General Hy did say, however, that Mr. Thoura had been instructed to sell the meth to buyers in the capital.
“We found that the order was given by the five prisoners,” he said. “They were in contact by telephone from prison.”
The spokesman said the arrest of Mr. Thoura had followed a monthlong investigation into the prison-based syndicate, and that a full report would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court imminently.
“We will investigate and find more people involved,” he added. “This is one of the largest drug-dealing cases.”
While such large seizures of methamphetamine are rare in Cambodia, Monday’s pales in comparison to 54 kg of the synthetic narcotic confiscated from a Cambodian women and two Chinese men in June. Worth some $3 million—including 345 grams of heroin—it was the largest meth seizure in Cambodia’s history.