Alleged Drug Smuggler Jailed

Battambang police have arrested a man for allegedly trying to smuggle nearly 1,000 methamphetamine pills, the latest arrest as police in the country’s northwest try to control the drug trade.

Pich Chhein of Banteay Mean­chey was arrested May 26 by police as he arrived at the Bat­tam­bang bus station, Battam­bang Police Chief Heng Chan­that said.

Heng Chanthat said Pich Chhein was enroute to Pailin or Phnom Penh to sell the 970 pills. He was sent to court May 29 and is in jail awaiting trial, police said.

In the past three months, police have seized more than 10,000 methamphetamine pills, said Sok Saren, Banteay Mean­chey’s police chief. Ingre­dients are imported from Burma and Thai­land, but the drugs are made in Cambodia, Sok Saren said.

For several years, amphetamines have been produced in forests along the Thai border from Pailin to Koh Kong. And recently, drug officials say, amphetamines are increasingly being smuggled into the interior of Cambodia, including Phnom Penh, where they are used most often by sex workers, street children and students.

The police crackdown is making slow progress.

Last month, two Thais and two Cambodians were sentenced to prison in Battambang for possessing amphetamines. The two Thai men were arrested two months ago in Battam­bang near the Thai border after they were stopped and searched by police, who confiscated 40 amphetamine pills. They told police they had not crossed into Cambodia from Thailand to traffic amphetamines and that the drugs were for personal use, said Nil Non, the Bat­tambang court chief.

They were sentenced to three months in jail.

The two Cambodian men were arrested in Battambang town in January carrying more than 800 amphetamine pills. During the investigation, police learned the two men had smuggled drugs from near the Thai border to Kompong Cham several times, Dim Yarum said. Both men were sentenced in April to serve five years in prison and pay an 8 million riel ($2,050) fine each.

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