Customs officials seized more than 1,000 mobile phones that had been smuggled past the Pochentong Airport customs agents only a few hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen had bestowed an award on the checkpoint’s chief official.
On Monday evening officers from the city’s mobile customs task force stopped a van at a checkpoint in front of the Plaza market in Dangkao district, a few hundred meters from the airport.
The van carried 500 Siemens-M35 phones, 352 Nokia phones, 190 Motorola-GSM phones and 40 top-of-the-line Siemens-6688 phones, said Sar Thang, chief of the mobile task force in charge of smuggling. The haul also included 2,400 battery chargers and 1,400 phone batteries. All were exported from Hong Kong, Sar Thang said.
“The smugglers would not have dared to smuggle by air without the collusion by custom officials at the airport,” he said. “This is the biggest raid we have had of mobile phones.”
The smugglers will be fined three times the value of the phones, or about $55,000, by customs tax officials, he said. Customs officials do not have the power to arrest the smugglers. Sar Thang said he was not certain on which flight the phones arrived.
On Monday morning, Soam Vutha, the airport’s chief customs officer, received a medal in honor of his good performance on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cambodian customs.
Soam Vutha could not be reached for comment Thursday.