Hout Ravuth allegedly netted almost $800,000 in a four-year kidnapping spree that police believe they ended this week.
“This is the end of his career,” said Phnom Penh Municipal Police Commissioner Sourn Chhengly. “He is the last great kidnapper in Cambodia.”
Authorities believe the 35-year-old former medical student quit his studies and launched a career as a kidnapper in 1997, eventually becoming the leader of a criminal gang of 30 and netting $789,000 in ransoms, Sourn Chhengly said.
He first gained notoriety in 1999 after the 1999 kidnapping of Sam Rainsy parliamentarian Lon Phon, which Hout Ravuth was accused of masterminding. Lon Phon was later released unharmed after his family reportedly paid a ransom of $140,000.
At the time, Sam Rainsy Party members accused the government of orchestrating the kidnapping as a warning to other opposition members.
They said the failure to arrest Hout Ravuth was evidence of official sanction.
Hout Ravuth is accused of leading eight other kidnappings, including the 1998 abduction of an Electricite du Cambodge official, who was killed after relatives failed to meet ransom demands.
The gang last struck in August, 2000, when they allegedly abducted the son of a Finance Ministry official, police said.
Police shot Hout Ravuth in the leg Monday in Banteay Meanchey province as he tried to escape, Sourn Chhengly said.
He is now under guard at Preah Monivong Hospital, being cared for by his wife, also a former medical student, and his 2-year-old son, police said.
All but nine other gang members, including Hout Ravuth’s brother, a policeman, are in custody, police said.
Last year, police shot and killed suspected kidnapper Sam Nara, after a shootout in Phnom Penh.
Police said Sam Nara threatened police with a grenade as he lay bleeding under a tree.
Known as “Rasmach,” Sam Nara allegedly extorted more than $1.2 million in two years.