Five Suspects Charged Over Ecstasy Haul in Sihanoukville

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Tuesday charged four foreigners and a fifth person who remains at large after police found ecstasy and drug-making equipment in a Sihanoukville bungalow, a court spokesman said on Wednesday.

American Mikhail Grafman, 52, Russian Elmira Mukhametianova, 30, and Ukrainian Melnyk Volodymyr, 27, were charged with illegal drug production, while 26-year-old Lenya Vlkoval, from the Czech Republic, was charged under an article in the drug control law that relates to storing and either transporting or trafficking drugs, according to court spokesman Huot Vichet.

Another person, whom Mr. Vichet declined to identify because the suspect had not been arrested, was charged in absentia with illegal drug production.

The named suspects and Hannah Sirkia, 28, from Finland, were arrested on Saturday and Sunday after Mr. Grafman’s landlord became suspicious of his tenant’s regular absences and called authorities, police said. Ms. Sirkia was released on Tuesday after she was questioned at the court, said Sun Sophat, deputy provincial police chief.

“The Finnish woman only happened to be with the Czech woman and she didn’t know anything,” he said.

Police over the weekend found about 900 MDMA tablets, commonly known as ecstasy, and powdered synthetics used in making the drug, which weighed about 0.5 kilogram in total, at a bungalow Mr. Grafman had rented, an Interior Ministry official said on Monday.

Producing that amount of illegal drugs carries a punishment of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to 100 million riel, or about $25,000.

Should Ms. Vlkoval be found guilty, the charges carry a penalty of between two years to life in prison, and a fine of between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the amount and purity of the drugs.

The four suspects who were arrested and charged were sent to the provincial prison on Tuesday to await trial, Mr. Sophat said.

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