Police Say Australian Hid Heroin in Fish Fillets

A man suspected of trafficking 2 kg of heroin from Phnom Penh to Australia hidden inside fish fillets was apprehended at Brisbane Air­port on Wednesday, Cambodian of­fi­cials said on Friday.

Anh Kien Tran, a 49-year-old Aus­tral­ian national, had boarded SilkAir flight MI-622 from Phnom Penh In­ternational Airport at noon on Tues­day, police said.

He was discovered by Brisbane Air­port customs officials with two con­­tainers of fish, holding 20 heroin-filled condoms, the Australian Broad­­casting Corporation reported.

“He had originally passed through our checking counter,” said Chhay Bunnar, Airport Immigration Chief in Phnom Penh.

Anh Kien Tran had checked the fishy luggage through as cargo, which is the responsibility of the private firm managing the airport, Cam­bodian Airport Management Services Ltd, Chhay Bunnar said.

Chhay Bunnar and Phnom Penh air­port Director Bun Thy referred fur­ther questions to CAMS Security Chief Em Ratana, who refused to dis­­cuss the matter, citing security concerns. Interior Ministry spokes­man Khieu Sopheak said Cambodia and Australia have been working closely to combat drug trafficking.

“There is a very close and fruitful cooperation…. Without cooperation, we could not see any results,” he said on Sunday. “We have eliminated nearly all the trafficking from Cambodia to Australia.”

Also on Sunday, Australian Fed­er­al Police Commissioner Mick Keel­ty announced a “historic” law en­force­ment agreement between AFP and Cambodian police, ABC reported.

Khieu Sopheak said he hopes the two countries will soon sign extradition treaties as well.

Graham Shaw, technical officer on HIV/AIDS and drug abuse for the World Health Organization, described heroin trafficking, usually from Burma to Cambodia and then to Australia, as a growing problem.

He estimated that 2 kg sells for $20,000 in Phnom Penh and $500,000 in Australia. But Anh Kien Tran’s case did not sound like the work of a professional, Shaw said.

“Going into Australia, they check for any kind of produce you have with you,” he said. “It’s a standard customs check in Australia, so to hide it inside fish doesn’t make any sense.”




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