Eight Charged With Producing, Selling Drugs in Sihanoukville

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Thursday charged seven foreigners and a Cambodian with the sale and manufacture of drugs, as well as permitting their use in Si­hanoukville’s Happy Hippi Bar.

Australian Joe Ludemann, 45, and his wife, Kim Chenda, 40, a Viet­­namese national, owned the bar and were ar­rested there along with their Cam­bodian cleaner, Khuon Srei Mom, and five foreigners on Wednesday, said Long Kim Hour, a senior Sihanoukville military police officer for narcotics.

American Eric Jay Weisman, 50, Canadian Alex Sribny, 44, Swede Anders Bergstein, 54, and Russians Nuriahmetov Rasil, 40, and Pavel Pelogotin, 41, were ordered to be de­tained at the provincial prison with the other suspects, he said.

“It is the first time in Sihanouk­ville city that our military police have raided drug users and sellers who are foreign,” he said, adding that military police reportedly confiscated crystal meth­amphetamine, heroin, marijuana and metham­phetamine pills, among others.

Heng Bunti, deputy provincial military police commander, said the bar was under surveillance prior to the arrests. “We raided this bar after spending many months monitoring activities of drug use and selling,” Mr Bunti said. Riem Chan Mony, deputy prosecutor, said the case had been assigned to an investigating judge.

The bar’s website displays photographs of cannabis and refers to patrons as “happy tokers.”

In a separate case, Takeo Pro­vincial Court on May 2 charged two men with growing marijuana after police destroyed 1,155 can­nabis plants, said deputy provincial police chief Suon Phon. On April 30, provincial police arrested Buoy Khoeun, 36, and Manh San, 24, in Kiri Vong district, where plants were destroyed, said Mr Phon.

Graham Shaw, technical officer for harm reduction and HIV/ AIDS at the World Health Organi­zation, said that in Cambodia, the focus was on combating the most harmful drugs like heroin and methamphetamines.

            (Additional reporting by Alice Foster)

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