Two Provisionally Charged Over 60 Kg Drug Trafficking Bust

Two men were provisionally charged on Sunday with trafficking and storing drugs after they were arrested last week during drug raids in Phnom Penh and Ratanakkiri province in which more than 60 kg of packaged heroin and crystal methamphetamine were confiscated by police, officials said.

The suspects, who were questioned by a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge yesterday and were expected in court again today, face 20 years to life in prison and fines of up to $25,000 if convicted, said In Song, an officer with the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.

They were being held yesterday at the anti-drug department’s office, Mr. Song said.

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Lieutenant General Mok Chito, center, during a news briefing at the anti-drug department in Phnom Penh on Saturday. (Phan Soumy/The Cambodia Daily)

Police originally said 50 kg of illicit drugs had been seized. Deputy National Police Commissioner Mok Chito identified the suspects as Loung Sopha and Syla Loy during a news briefing on Saturday at the General Commissariat of National Police’s anti-drug department in Phnom Penh.

The pair were arrested on Wednesday, he said. “For this case, we have assumed that it is a case of drug storing, illegal cross-border drug trafficking” and organized crime, Lieutenant General Chito said.

The confiscated drugs—including 47 packages of heroin, 12 packages of crystal methamphetamine and 42 packages of methamphetamine pills—were brought into Cambodia from the Golden Triangle, a hotspot for drug production where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet, he said.

Lt. Gen. Chito said police were working with international authorities in their search for additional suspects involved in the alleged drug ring in other countries.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said on Thursday that the case was “linked with people living in Laos and Thailand.”

Mr. Loy was arrested at the hotel he owns, Ratanak Sambath Hotel in the provincial capital of Banlung City, said Phen Dina, deputy provincial police chief in Ratanakkiri, on Friday.

He was identified as an oknha, a honorific bestowed on those who make a minimum donation of $500,000—the figure was formerly $100,000—to the government, although Lt. Gen. Chito said Mr. Loy’s status was unclear. 

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