Probe Catches Four Suspected Drug Traffickers

Following a six-month police investigation, three foreigners and one Cambodian were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning on Tuesday after they were arrested last week for allegedly trafficking about 2.7 kg of illegal drugs from Laos, police said.

Last week’s arrests came just before the release of an assessment by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and regional police leaders which found gaps in authorities’ ability to halt the flow of drugs along the east-west corridor that connects Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, according to a UNODC statement released on Monday.

cam photo drugs
Illicit drugs, passports, scales and a handgun confiscated by police are seen in this photograph posted to the Facebook page of the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.

Cambodia launched a six-month anti-drug crackdown in January. As of on Tuesday, 6,498 people have been arrested for alleged drug crimes, including 3,224 suspected traffickers, according to Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.

In Song, an officer with the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said the four suspected traffickers—identified as Cambodian Nout Keo Rachana, 43; Chinese nationals Wu Hua Zen, 37, and Xu Zhimei, 51; and Vietnamese national Phan Van Ky, 47—were arrested at multiple locations around Phnom Penh over two days last week for allegedly operating a major trafficking ring.

“We had been doing a monthslong investigation and then we got clear information, which led to the arrests,” Mr. Song said.

Mr. Keo Rachana and Ms. Wu were arrested last Wednesday, while Mr. Xu and Mr. Phan, the alleged ringleaders, were arrested on Saturday, Mr. Song added.

About 2.7 kg of crystal methamphetamine, meth pills, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana were confiscated, the anti-drug department said on Monday.

Police also confiscated two cars, a handgun, bullets and four scales, it added.

Mr. Song said the suspects were being detained at the anti-drug department and were expected in court for questioning again today.

Chandu Bhandari, UNODC regional adviser, said on Tuesday that there was a region-wide need to improve the capacity for “search and detection, [and] relevant equipment,” such as drug test kits.

“More also needs to be done to ensure that there are adequate officers at border areas and the officers there have sufficient support,” Mr. Bhandari said.

Cambodia “agreed that cooperation between [cross-border and domestic] agencies in particular needs to be strengthened,” he added.

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