Filipino Arrested With 3.2 Kilos of Cocaine at Siem Reap Airport

A Philippine national was arrested at Siem Reap International Airport on Monday night after he was caught attempting to smuggle more than 3 kg of cocaine through Cambodia enroute to Thailand, police said Tuesday.

Christian Echual Ramirez, 33, was arrested at about 9 p.m. after arriving on a flight from Vietnam, said Lieutenant Colonel In Song, the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Department.

Mr. Ramirez had 3.2 kg of cocaine hidden inside of large bottles of shampoo, Lt. Col. Song said, adding that the man had been due to fly onward to Bangkok.

Mr. Ramirez’s flight to Siem Reap was the second-to-last stop in a chain of flights that saw him depart Brazil and transfer in Qatar, Dubai and Vietnam, he said.

Lt. Col. Song said that Siem Reap provincial anti-drug police and customs officers at the airport had cooperated in order to apprehend Mr. Ramirez during his transfer.

“Although the drug suspect changed directions for transfer many times and across many countries, our anti-drug police were able to arrest him and confiscate [the cocaine],” Lt. Col. Song said.

Siem Reap Provincial Court Chief Prosecutor Ty Sovinthal said that Mr. Ramirez was still to be charged and that authorities also want to arrest others they suspect of being part of the same cocaine smuggling operation.

Mr. Sovinthal said that the anti-drug police had hoped to arrest a person they had identified as a ringleader of the smuggling operation on Monday night but had failed to do so.

“It’s unfortunate we only arrested the drug trafficker but we never arrested their ringleaders,” he said.

The U.N. released a report Friday saying that Cambodia has become a transit hub for cocaine and methamphetamine destined for Thailand and other countries in the region. Last year, 41 kg of cocaine were seized in the country, according to the report.

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