Foreigners Arrested for Smuggling Heroin

Three foreigners were arrested Thursday, two of whom were in possession of 2 kg of heroin and on their way to Phnom Penh International Airport to catch a flight to Australia, police said.

Brigadier General Ouk Hay Seila, transnational crime bureau chief at the Ministry of Interior’s internal security department, said officials had been monitoring a group of suspects for more than three months when they saw 41-year-old Australian national Yoshe Ann Taylor and 19-year-old French national Charlene Savarino depart for the airport.

The women were discovered with the heroin hidden in their backpacks and arrested around midday. Police later arrested 23-year-old Nigerian national Precious Chinemewnoko, who is alleged to have been the ringleader of the operation, Brig. Gen. Hay Seila said.

“First we arrested two foreign women at 12:10 p.m. during their journey to Phnom Penh International Airport, and later we arrested the Nigerian national, but one other person escaped from a rental house in Chamkarmon district,” he said. “Now he is still at large, but we know his identity.”

According to police, the Australian woman, Ms. Taylor, admitted that she had used her backpack to smuggle heroin from Cambodia on one previous occasion in July.

Brig. Gen. Hay Seila said Ms. Taylor had arrived back in the country on Sunday for a second drug run.

“The French woman and the Nigerian man both organized and packaged the drugs in Phnom Penh for the Australian woman to come and take them back to Australia,” he said.

“Right now, three of them are in the custody of anti-terrorist police at the Minister of Interior for questioning and they will be sent to court tomorrow.”

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court in July sentenced a former Cambodian military colonel and a Vietnamese national to life in prison for attempting to mail heroin disguised as the popular “Korean Red Ginseng Tonic” to Australia.

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