Filipino Cocaine Smuggler Gets Life Sentence

A Filipino woman was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for attempting to smuggle 2.5 kg of cocaine into Phnom Penh from Brazil, while her Nigerian and Cambodian accomplices received jail terms of up to 30 years, court officials said.

Macoy Mavill Villamor, 42, was arrested in February at the Phnom Penh International Airport, where police discovered the cocaine in a case of diamond jewelry she was carrying.

Ms. Villamor’s co-conspirators— Cambodian Meng Sinuon and Nigerians Emmanuel Thankgod and Michael Sunshine—were arrested in subsequent stings at the airport and the Luxury World Hotel in Phnom Penh.

On Tuesday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted all four of conspiring to smuggle illegal drugs into the country, handing Ms. Villamor a rare life sentence. Mr. Thankgod and Mr. Sunshine, both 34, were sentenced to 30 and 27 years in prison, respectively, while Ms. Sinuon, 30, received a 22-year jail term. They were each fined $10,000.

The ruling was delivered by Judge Heng Kesaro, who said the court reached its decision after “listening to the suspects’ answers, the deputy prosecutor’s conclusion and the lawyers’ conclusions, and after examining the evidence.”

Judge Kesaro could not be reached for further comment.

During their hearings on August 13 and September 2, the four said they had been unknowing accomplices in the trafficking operation. Ms. Villamor claimed she believed the case with the cocaine, which she said had been given to her by “a friend,” contained only jewelry.

Ms. Sinuon told the court a Nigerian man she did not know had asked her to take $500 to Ms. Villamor at the Luxury World Hotel, which she agreed to do for a $20 commission.

Interior Ministry anti-drug police chief Khieu Samon said Tuesday that Ms. Villamor and her accomplices were thwarted due to cooperation between Cambodian police and Interpol.

“The international police gave us a tip-off,” Mr. Samon said.

Asked about the variance in jail terms for the four, Mr. Samon said: “Some were found carrying drugs and some were [less closely] involved in the case, so the punishment is not the same.”

Tuesday’s verdict follows a municipal court ruling in May that saw five foreign nationals—two of whom remain at large—sentenced to between 23 and 27 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle 2.2 kg of heroin into Cambodia from Australia.

And in June last year, the municipal court handed life sentences in absentia to a Vietnamese-Canadian and a Vietnamese national for manufacturing MDMA, the active ingredient in the drug Ecstasy.

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