Romanian Man Arrested at Siem Reap Airport With Cocaine

Police on Wednesday arrested a Romanian man at Siem Reap International Airport carrying 3.5 kg of cocaine and suspected of planning to transport the drugs to Thailand.

Serban Rares Cadri, 38, was arrested soon after stepping off a flight from Brazil that stopped over in Singapore before landing in Siem Reap, Um Amara, deputy Siem Reap police chief, said Thursday.

He said Cambodian authorities were tipped off about Mr. Rares Cadri’s arrival by both Brazil and Singapore and found the drugs wrapped in plastic and copper wire and hidden inside a power converter in his luggage. The Romanian national would be sent to the provincial court today to be charged, he added.

“We got the information and identified the suspect before we arrested him,” said Ang Sokhinou, director of customs at the airport.

“After searching the suspect, we found the 3.5 kg of cocaine inside the converter covered in copper wire and a plastic bag,” he added.

Mr. Sokhinou said the suspect was planning to hire a taxi to cross into Thailand at Poipet on the border.

The drug bust is the third involving cocaine at the airport in about a year.

The last was in July, when police arrested an Indonesian woman attempting to board a flight bound for Thailand with nearly 2.5 kg of cocaine.

The arrests follow what the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) called in its 2012 report a record year for drug busts in Cambodia, during which police seized more than 40 kg of cocaine.

About three-quarters of it was seized in August of last year from three Thai women who arrived separately at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Two months later, police found another 11 kg in the luggage of two more Thai women, this time at the Siem Reap International Airport.

The women were believed to be drug mules working for major trafficking organizations taking cocaine from South America to Thailand, where the drug is becoming popular among the rich.

The NACD report notes that while domestic cocaine use was thought to be rare, Cambodia had “become a major transit hub for smuggling of cocaine” by drug-trafficking syndicates.

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