A Chinese man suspected of being a major international drug trafficker was deported from Cambodia to Hong Kong on Monday, police said Wednesday.
Cambodian police arrested Wong Moon Chi, 44, in Phnom Penh on Dec 8, before detaining him at the Immigration Police Department and then handing him over to the Hong Kong authorities, police said.
Wong was allegedly involved in about 20 drug smuggling cases, said Chhay Sinarith, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Information Department, and had allegedly been trafficking drugs to Hong Kong, Australia, and the US.
Wong had been operating a travel company from a rented office at the Phnom Penh Hotel, Chhay Sinarith added.
He trafficked cannabis, amphetamines and heroin and had used Cambodia as a transit point, The Associated Press quoted Bit Kim Hing, a senior Interior Ministry official, as saying on Wednesday.
In 2000, he allegedly smuggled about 300 kg of heroin from Cambodia to mainland China, Bit Kim Hong told the news agency.
One former police official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that Wong had been living in Cambodia since 1996 and that anti-narcotics police had been aware of his activities.
Police began investigating Wong in April, after receiving information about him from Interpol, Chhay Sinarith said.
“He brought foreigners to gamble in Cambodia,” said Chhay Sinarith, adding that he made many friends in Cambodia and had opened a business. The suspect was using a Chinese passport in the name of Du Yurong at the time of his arrest, he added.
The US Embassy on Wednesday lauded the arrest and deportation. The collaboration between Cambodian and Hong Kong authorities “marks an important step in regional cooperation to fight international [drug] trafficking,” US Embassy spokeswoman Heide Bronke said.
Graham Shaw of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime also applauded the deportation. “We were aware there were networks operating, but we’ve never known who they were or what nationalities they were before,” Shaw said.
Wong may have helped new drug trafficking networks take root here, and someone of his alleged criminal stature may also have been involved in money laundering and human trafficking, Shaw said. “I would guess there would be concerns, and police also appear to have concerns, of a network already operating because of this guy,” he said.