The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday charged eight Nigerian nationals with drug trafficking following their arrest in Phnom Penh on Sunday night for possession and distribution of crystal methamphetamine, but their interrogation will continue as police try to identify other members of their distribution ring, officials said.
The men were arrested at three separate locations in the city after undercover anti-drug police set up a deal to purchase 100 grams of crystal methamphetamine from one of the alleged distributors at an address in Daun Penh district.
Deputy municipal prosecutor Sieng Sok said that he charged the Nigerian nationals, who were in Cambodia illegally, with drug trafficking on Thursday morning and sent the case to an investigating judge.
Yin Panharith, acting chief of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug police Bureau 9, which carried out the bust, said the suspects would be sent to the court again today to be questioned by the investigating judge, but that the men remained in police custody as they were still being interrogated.
“They are still under my temporary supervision, but they will be sent to the court tomorrow,” Mr. Panharith said.
He added that questioning of the suspects had led police to request further arrest warrants for at least two other Nigerian nationals, who police believe have been importing crystal methamphetamine from Africa for up to three years in 20- to 30-kg shipments.
“The Nigerian gang operates with three to five ringleaders that each have five to 10 people working under them who sell the drugs. We have already sent documents to the court to get arrest warrants for more of the suspects involved,” he said.
He added that investigators had pinpointed two other alleged drug smugglers and dealers, but they escaped when his officers headed to arrest them shortly after apprehending the other men on Sunday.
“We have their names and photos and know who one of them is, and I believe we will have them arrested within a week to 10 days,” he said.
A ninth Nigerian national arrested on Sunday, who is a legal resident of Cambodia and plays football with NagaCorp FC, was later released after police determined he was not involved in the drug ring.