Drug Lords Using Disabled as Mules, Police Say

Poipet City police in Banteay Meanchey province say they arrested two suspected drug dealers Saturday, seizing some 2,000 meth­amphetamine pills in the process.

City police chief Om Sophal said officers nabbed the suspects—Huon Kuon, 41, of O’Chrou district and Nob Than, 31, of Poipet—while the pair were on their way to a drug deal.

Provincial police chief Hun Hean said the men would be sent to the pro­vincial court to be charged today.

“They are both drug dealers who always hire disabled people as well as HIV/AIDS infected people as tools in a drug distribution-channel,” he said.

According to Mr Hean, police in the province have apprehended more than 40 suspected drug dealers and seized about 20,000 pills, mostly methamphetamines, since the start of the year.

Drug dealers have now adapted their tactics to evade arrest, he said.

“The smugglers have changed from smuggling large volumes to smuggling small volumes by hiring impoverished people, disabled people…as well as HIV/AIDS infected people to deliver fewer than 10 pills [at a time],” he said, adding that the smugglers were often addicts themselves.

“Although [Mr Kuon and Mr Than] are not the big smugglers…. They must both be prosecuted be­fore the law,” he added.

Mr Hean said he was also hopeful that their arrests would lead police to the “big fish” behind their operation.

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, welcomed the arrests but worried the po­lice dragnet was targeting the small fry and deliberately avoiding the corrupt security officials who are involved in drug smuggling.

“Because of poverty and unemployment, the poor people, disabled people and HIV/AIDS infected people are targeted for hire by drug dealers to commit crimes,” he said.

“Whatever the cops have done to crack down on drug smuggling is great, but they are hesitating to arrest suspected drug dealers who are powerful officials.”

 

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