Police Officer, One Other Jailed Over Meth Ring

A border police officer and a moto-taxi driver were jailed on charges of drug trafficking in Stung Treng province Wednesday following a monthlong covert operation that culminated in the arrests on Tuesday, police said.

Yen Panharith, a bureau chief at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said Long Chantry—a border police officer and the suspected ringleader of a cross-border smuggling syndicate—and Chou Savoeun, 53, were arrested at a warehouse in Thala Barivat district. They had agreed to sell 1,964 grams of crystal methamphetamine from Laos to undercover officers.

“We spent one month pretending to be drug users so the drug smugglers trusted us,” Mr. Panharith said, adding that the pair was arrested at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We arrested them in their warehouse after arranging to buy 2 kg of ‘ice’ for $70,000,” he said, using a slang term for crystal meth.

Mr. Panharith said Mr. Chantry was from a Laotian-Cambodian family and had residences on both sides of the border. He said the officer’s in-laws were also involved in the drug trade and were wanted.

Police believe that Mr. Savoeun was planning to transport the drugs to Phnom Penh, where he lives, according to Mr. Panharith, who said the case had been handed over to provincial authorities.

Chem Phanith, chief of the provincial police’s anti-drug bureau, said Mr. Chantry and Mr. Savoeun were charged with drug trafficking Wednesday and sent to the provincial prison to await trial.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said the drugs were likely destined for Phnom Penh’s Trapaing Chhouk village, a notorious labyrinth of drug dens that police have been unable to shut down.

Lieutenant General Vyrith said that “impurity profiling” of drugs seized in recent raids on Trapaing Chhouk showed that much of it had come from Laos.

“Most of the drugs that come to Phnom Penh come from the Golden Triangle, through Laos [and across the] border into Cambodia,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Matt Blomberg)

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