Official Believes Tip-Off Helped Drug Kingpin Escape Dragnet

After one of the alleged leaders of a busted multi-milliondollar international drug smuggling ring slipped through a police dragnet in Stung Treng province on Tuesday, an anti-drug official said an information leak likely helped the man escape.

Deputy National Police Commissioner Mok Chito said police surrounded the home of businessman Dam Nha, 52, in Stung Treng City’s Stung Treng commune, but that he fled before police could arrest him.

“We checked the suspect’s… store, his karaoke [parlor] and his two houses,” Lieutenant General Chito said. “We did not find any drugs at all.”

Lt. Gen. Chito said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court wanted Mr. Nha for questioning over a $3-million methamphetamine seizure on June 18 and 19 in Phnom Penh.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said he believed Mr. Nha was one of two people who led the drug ring. “[According] to our informant, he is one of the ring masterminds,” he said.

Lieutenant General Vyrith added that police had been watching Mr. Nha and saw him pull into his house Tuesday with his car.

“Our police say he was at home, but actually he went home and [then] ran away,” he said. “I think he left Cambodia to another place.”

Lt. Gen. Vyrith said he believed someone informed Mr. Nha about Tuesday’s raid ahead of time. “I think there is a leaking of information,” he said, declining to elaborate.

According to Son Nimol, chief of Stung Treng’s anti-drug police department, Mr. Nha ran a restaurant and sold farm equipment.

When police broke up the drug ring in Phnom Penh earlier this month, they found nearly 55 kg of methamphetamine, the country’s largest recorded seizure of the drug. They also arrested a Cambodian woman and two Chinese men.

A fourth man, Liv Seu, 50, who police have said was Mr. Nha’s lieutenant, was already serving time at the Stung Treng Provincial Prison on unrelated weapons charges and has since been transferred to Phnom Penh.

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