Police have arrested yet another Chinese national in connection with a methamphetamine smuggling ring that operated out of Phnom Penh’s Sokha hotel until authorities raided the premises earlier this month, while three other suspects have been jailed on charges of manufacturing and trafficking drugs, an official said on Friday.
A Vietnamese sex worker who was apprehended at the luxury hotel in Chroy Changva district on February 3 was released earlier this week when investigators determined that she was not involved in the narcotics racket, according to Van Chansovandara, a section chief at the municipal police’s anti-drug bureau.
Mr. Chansovandara said the latest suspect, a Chinese man, was arrested outside Phnom Penh International Airport on Thursday evening and was being questioned alongside a Chinese man who was caught in possession of two suspicious white substances at the Sokha hotel on Friday last week and three others who were apprehended at the airport the next day.
“Our police arrested a man near the airport who is part of the group of dealers arrested at the Sokha hotel,” he said.
“So far, nine suspects are involved in this single meth case at the Sokha hotel,” he added, explaining that the initial suspects —two Chinese nationals, a Cambodian man and a Vietnamese woman who were caught with half a kilogram of crystal meth and later admitted to flushing a further 5 kg down the toilet—had already been dealt with by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
While the Chinese and Cambodian were jailed on trafficking charges on Tuesday, the section chief said, the Vietnamese woman was released when court officials determined that she was a sex worker, having only been in the company of the others because the Chinese man, who was additionally charged with manufacturing illegal drugs, had purchased her sexual services.
“The Vietnamese woman, we released her because she is just a prostitute and not involved with the drugs,” he said.
Court officials handling the case could not be reached on Friday
Mr. Chansovandara’s boss, bureau chief Ev Phearith, said earlier this week that he had sent the white substances found at the Sokha hotel to be tested by the National Authority for Combating Drugs. However, the authority’s secretary-general, Meas Vyrith, said on Friday he still had not received them. Mr. Phearith could not be reached.