Police Seize Record-Breaking Drug Haul

Police in Kratie province seized some 559,600 amphetamine pills Tuesday, marking what may be the largest seizure of the drug in the country’s history.

The seizure is about 10 times more than the previous record of 60,000 pills, confiscated in Ban­teay Meanchey province in 2001, ac­cording to Graham Shaw of the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

Authorities uncovered the drugs stashed under a load of ve­ge­tables while searching a boat docked in Sambor district, ac­cording to Sek Ny, chief of pro­vincial military police.

Two men—Lorn Sisophon, 28, and Sin Thean, 29—were arrested at the scene and are expected to appear today in Kratie provincial court to face charges of drug traf­ficking. If convicted the men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

A third man, named Phoeung Bun­leng, was arrested on Wednes­day in Stung Treng pro­vince by court order from Kratie, ac­cording to Stung Treng’s military police chief, Sieng Bunrith. His age was unavailable Wednes­day, and the police chief declined to specify the man’s ties to the two other suspects.

The bust highlights what seems to be a booming route for am­phetamines from the Laos bor­der to Phnom Penh and then to in-country and international destinations.

On the heels of Thailand’s proclaimed war on drugs last year, large hauls of amphetamine pills like the one seized Tuesday are flowing from Laos through Cam­bodia, then transported to the Thai border in the northeast, Shaw said.

“A lot of the stuff coming down the Mekong has actually been going to Thailand,” he said. “But it’s equally possible that [this latest bust] is for domestic use.”

Amphetamines, also known as yaba or yama, are becoming more prevalent in Australia and the West Coast states of the US, raising suspicion that the drug is shipped or flown out of Phnom Penh to those destinations, he said.

Military police and the anti-narcotics unit in the Ministry of Interior cooperated to make this week’s arrests, the third time in recent months that such a partnership has resulted in busts of several thousand pills, according to Long Vicheat, deputy of the min­istry’s drug team.

(Additional reporting by Luke Reynolds)

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