A Cambodian man has been arrested and accused of smuggling heroin through the mail to Australia, where he also has citizenship, a Ministry of Interior official said Wednesday.
Nheim Phala, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior’s counter-terrorism unit, told reporters at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court that police seized 38 envelopes with a total of 333 grams of heroin inside.
He said police were tipped to the alleged scheme when postal workers started wondering about the large number of letters that the man was sending.
The letters were seized at different times, mostly from post offices around Phnom Penh, Nheim Phala said. On Jan 6, six envelopes were seized from the post office in Boeung Prolit commune, Prampi Makara district. Twenty-one more were seized the following day at the Wat Phnom post office and 11 letters were confiscated when police arrested the man on Jan 10.
Nheim Phala said Chhourp Kong Sophara, 34, was sending the letters to different rental houses in Australia and had written fake Cambodian return addresses on the envelopes as well as fake names for the receivers. He said the suspect confessed this was the second time he had tried sending heroin to Australia by mail. Nheim Phala said the man told police he sent another 32 envelopes, also with 333 grams of heroin bought in Phnom Penh, on Nov 30.
Chhourp Kong Sophara told police he bought the heroin for $6,500 and was hoping to sell it in Australia for about $67,500 to $75,000.
Nheim Phala said that according to the man’s Australian passport, he had entered Cambodia seven times in the past, most recently on Dec 31. Nheim Phala said the man confessed he was selling the heroin because he did not make much money as a farmer in Australia.
Phnom Penh Chief Prosecutor Ouk Savuth charged Chhourp Kong Sophara under the anti-drug law and if convicted, he could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of about $12,500.