Alleged Meth Peddler ID’d as Police Officer

The alleged leader of a drug trafficking ring arrested with more than 2 kg of methamphetamine in Stung Treng province on Wednesday has been identified as a provincial police officer.

Officers went undercover to arrest Em Sophal, a deputy chief of the provincial police department’s immigration unit, after tracking him for more than a month, officials said.

A Toyota Hilux truck, a handgun and methamphetamine pills worth $20,000, which weighed 2.1 kg, were confiscated, Yin Panharith, bureau chief in the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said on Wednesday.

Mr. Sophal, a second lieutenant, had attempted to sell the drugs to an undercover officer, although he later claimed the drugs did not belong to him, according to provincial anti-drug bureau chief Chem Phanith.

“He said [the drugs] belonged to this person or that person, but the important thing is where the evidence was found. Responsibility will be placed on that person,” Mr. Phanith said on Thursday.

Police also identified another suspect, a Laotian man, he added. “We are requesting to the Laos side to find out the identity of the remaining suspect,” he said.

Mr. Phanith said Mr. Sophal was being detained and would be sent to the court today.

Provincial police chief Mao Dara on Thursday denied that Mr. Sophal was a police officer, but his deputy, Sann Nimol, confirmed the suspect’s position and said he had been an officer for more than 10 years.

“We knew he was the suspect a long time ago, but we didn’t have any evidence,” Mr. Nimol said.

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