A Nigerian man charged with drug trafficking Wednesday admitted in court to transporting crystal methamphetamine in Phnom Penh last year, but claimed he had merely been a hired hand.
Ime Johanudom, 52, was arrested on the evening of October 26 in a sting operation that led to the capture of eight other Nigerian men that night. Mr. Johanudom was caught with more than 100 grams of crystal methamphetamine valued at roughly $2,600.
One of the suspects was later released after police found that he was not involved in the drug ring.
“The eight accused were involved with illegal drug trafficking, committed on October 26, 2014, in front of Golden Sorya Mall in Daun Penh district’s Phsar Thmei III commune,” Presiding Judge Top Chhun Heng said in court Wednesday, referring to the location where Mr. Johanudom was arrested.
“Police confiscated 116.96 grams of crystal methamphetamine and some dried marijuana,” he added.
Judge Chhun Heng said Mr. Johanudom was arrested at about 6:40 p.m. Several hours later, he said, police arrested a suspected accomplice, Ikechukwu Onyinyech Theddaus, 37, who led the officers to the other suspects.
All eight men were present in court Wednesday, but Presiding Judge Chhun Heng only questioned Mr. Johanudom, who confessed to transporting the methamphetamine at the request of another Nigerian man.
“What they accused me of is the truth, I cannot lie,” he said. “But those drugs were not mine; they belonged to another Nigerian.”
Mr. Johanudom said that a man he knew only as “Mr. Frank” had approached him at a beer garden and offered him $200 to bring the methamphetamine to a buyer at Golden Sorya Mall.
“I did not know him…he did not tell [his identity] and also I did not ask him clearly,” he said through a translator.
Judge Chhun Heng said the trial would resume at a date that had yet to be decided.
At the time of the arrests in October, police said the Nigerian drug ring had been smuggling 20- to 30-kg shipments of crystal methamphetamine into Cambodia from Africa for as long as three years.