Alleged Heroin Smugglers Face Municipal Court

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday tried two people accused of attempting to smuggle 12 kg of heroin—disguised as a popular Korean health tonic—from Cambodia to Australia by mail.

The accused, a Vietnamese woman and a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier, both pleaded not guilty, saying they were unaware the sachets, labeled “Korean Red Ginseng Tonic,” contained heroin. The packages are thought to have been capable of fetching several million dollars in Australia.

“It is not mine, I was ordered by a man known as Chhun Chida to take it to the post office,” 44-year-old Vietnamese national Nguyen Nu told the court.

Asked to provide further information on the identity of the man she was implicating, Ms. Nu said that she did not know who he was.

Suo Sarin, 54, identified as an RCAF colonel, said that he had been working as a driver and translator for Ms. Nu and that he had no knowledge of the heroin she mailed to Australia.

The two were arrested at the post office in December, and Mr. Sarin testified Tuesday that he had already taken Ms. Nu to the post office to mail a package to Australia once before.

“The first time I did not go inside the post office, and the second time police arrested me outside the post office while I was waiting for [Ms. Nu],” Mr. Sarin said.

Hun Rithy, deputy bureau po­lice chief of the department of international security inside the Ministry of Interior, told the court Tuesday that the arrests came after police received an anonymous tip-off.

“We arrested them after police received a phone call telling us the two people were trying to send drugs to Australia,” Mr. Rithy said, adding that police had found several hundred sachets of a substance containing heroin.

May Vanna, defense lawyer for the suspects, reiterated his clients’ claim that they were innocent.

“I request the court to re-investigate this case,” Mr. Vanna said.

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