Chinese Suspects Arrested Over 50 Kg Drug Haul

After a five-month investigation, two Chinese men suspected of being part of a larger drug ring were arrested in Phnom Penh last week and 50 kg of drugs smuggled from the Golden Triangle area were seized, officials said on Sunday.

Su Yang Liang, 41, who has lived in Cambodia for about five years, was driving through Tuol Kok district’s Boeng Kak II commune on Thursday when officials from the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department apprehended him with half a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, said deputy department director San Sothy. He declined to provide details of the arrest.

Under questioning at department headquarters, however, Mr. Su told officials about an apartment in the same commune where a stockpile of drugs was being stored, Mr. Sothy said.

While the apartment was vacant when officials arrived, 44 kg of ketamine powder, 2,000 bottles of liquid ketamine totaling nearly 34 ounces, nearly 2 kg of crystal meth and 1,930 ecstasy pills weighing 713 grams were confiscated, he said.

Additional information obtained while questioning Mr. Su enabled officials to track down a second suspected trafficker, 44-year-old Yang Deying, on Saturday, Major General Sothy added. “He had taken a tuk-tuk and was waiting along Moni­vong Boulevard” to meet someone when anti-drug police arrested him, he said. Mr. Yang was carrying a plastic bag containing clothes and 2.1 kg of heroin, he said, again declining to elaborate on the arrest.

“We have been investigating for five months” under direct orders from National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun, he said. Officials had determined that the drugs had been smuggled from the Golden Triangle, a hotspot for drug production in the mountainous region where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet.

“Cambodia is only a transitional place. Their intention was to bring the drugs to a third country,” Mr. Sothy said, declining to name any particular countries.

“The two are members of a ring,” he added, saying that officials were searching for the ringleader, but again declined to say whether any other suspects had been identified.

The case comes more than a year after the country’s largest meth haul, in which two Cambodians and two Chinese nationals were arrested for smuggling 38 kg of crystal meth, 16 kg of meth tablets and 345 grams of heroin worth $3 million from the same region. They were sentenced to life in prison last month.

According to Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, the large-scale busts were due to “the strengthening of law enforcement” and improved investigative skills among officials.

“Every country has it,” he said of drug trafficking, adding “it is good that [Cambodia] is not a country that produces drugs.”

Mr. Su is expected to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, according to In Song, an anti-drug department official, while Mr. Yang will be held for further questioning at the department’s headquarters. Both suspects were held overnight at the Interior Ministry.

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