Drug Raid Nabs Foreigners

Two Americans and four Thais have been arrested in Cambodian waters near Koh Kong transporting more than three tons of marijuana, anti-drug and provincial police confirmed Thursday.

Police arrested the men on Sunday in the Gulf of Thailand after they left port at Peam Kra­soap commune in Koh Kong pro­vince, which is located roughly 30 km from Thai soil.

The men are being held at the Ministry of Interior, according to the nation’s de­puty anti-drug police chief, Heng Peo. He cautioned that the investigation is continuing and initial information may not be accurate.

Police have identified the men as: Mark Smith, 39, and Joe Hardy, 45, both US citizens; and Tong Lat, 47, Soum Chai, 51, Thon Thanath, 47 and Chin Na­veth, 52, all Thais.

Chin Naveth is in the Thai navy, police said, al­though his rank is unclear.

The consular officer for the Thai Embassy could not be reach­ed for comment Thurs­day.

A US Embassy spokesman said he could not confirm that the suspects were Amer­icans.

Cambodian authorities believe this is the first time US nationals have been arrested in Cambodian waters on drug charges.

Koh Kong police have im­pounded the approximately 3,360 kg of marijuana and the suspects’ boat, they said.

“Three tons, it is large enough, but it is really not very large,” said Sum Manit, the secretary-general of the National Authority for Com­batting Drugs. “Three tons is medium.”

Sum Manit said a combined force of maritime police, provincial police and anti-drug police were in on the arrest.

Police had been investigating the group for one month prior to the arrest, Yem Pheung, the pro­vincial police chief, said.

Auth­orities refused to speculate where the men were headed or if they were part of an international drug ring until an investigation is completed.

(Additional reporting by Marc Levy)

 

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