Police Fire Weapons in Smuggled-Car Bust

Police fired on a car in a busy Phnom Penh street on Tuesday morning while trying to seize smuggled vehicles, customs officials said.

Six smuggled cars—two Land­cruisers, two Mercedes and two Toyotas, all 2001 or 2002 models—were confiscated from a lot on Monivong Boulevard in Daun Penh district, said Pen Siman, director of customs at the Min­istry of Finance.

As municipal police, military police and customs officials surrounded the storage lot, a man attempted to drive one of the cars out of the lot, Pen Siman said. Police fired on the car’s tire, flattening it and surprising onlookers but causing no injuries, he said.

The car’s owner will pay tax owed on the vehicles—somewhere between $150,000 and $170,000—and an undetermined fine, Pen Siman said. There were no arrests, he said.

“This crackdown will help prevent illegal car smuggling into the country,” Pen Siman said.

An unknown number of smuggled cars are now stored in lots throughout Phnom Penh, but news of the crackdown has al­ready caused some lot owners to move the cars to private houses, he said.

Stolen right-hand-drive cars from Thailand continually wind up in Cambodia, where the government normally charges $8,000 in taxes on a $10,000 imported car, customs officials say.

As of Sept 15, the customs department has permission to crack down on smuggled cars, whether through investigations or through mobile patrols, Pen Siman said.


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