Driving School Shut Down After Alleged Meth-Peddling

Authorities closed three branches of a driving school in Kompong Chhnang province on Monday after two employees were charged with trafficking crystal methamphetamine, officials said on Tuesday.

“We decided to shut down those driving schools because authorities discovered that a manager and teacher were involved in drug trafficking,” said Morm Choeun, a provincial government spokesman.

Provincial police arrested Nov Sopha, 32, a branch manager of the Heng Chamnan driving school, and instructor Vann Vichhean, 35, on October 28 after finding 14 small methamphetamine crystals hidden inside Mr. Sopha’s car and at his office at the school’s Kompong Chhnang City branch, according to Chun Tharith, deputy provincial police chief in charge of anti-drug trafficking.

Three accomplices who did not work for the school were also arrested, Mr. Tharith said.

“Even though we only found drugs at one branch, when we investigated we found that those teachers were teaching in all branches, so they have the ability to distribute the drug to other branches,” he said.

Provincial governor Chhuor Chandoeun was concerned about the spread of the drug trafficking to the two other branches, “and provincial authorities were concerned that if we did not shut down the schools, they might spread the drugs to students and other teachers,” Mr. Tharith said.

The five suspects were charged with drug trafficking in the days following their arrests and are currently being held while police continue to investigate, Mr. Tharith said.

Im Srey Pov, owner of the school’s branch in Kompong Tralach district, said police had overstepped by shutting down all the schools.

“It seriously affects the honor of my school,” she said. “My school didn’t get involved with those people.”

Ms. Srey Pov said her 10 or so current students would complete their term before she completely closed the school, but she would no longer advertise or enroll new students.

“I will be responsible to all of our students. We will continue teaching them until they finish their term,” she said.

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