Suspects in Sokha Hotel Meth Bust Deny Dealing

A Chinese woman and a Cambodian man on trial in a case in which a Chinese national was accused of cooking crystal methamphetamine inside the luxury Sokha hotel admitted to lesser roles on Thursday during a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The hotel staff reported suspicious behavior to police in February, leading to charges of drug manufacturing and trafficking against the pair, who were arrested along with five Chinese men and a Vietnamese woman.

The Sokha hotel in Phnom Penh. (Enric Catala)
The Sokha hotel in Phnom Penh. (Enric Catala)

During raids on hotel rooms being occupied by some of the accused, police found half a kilogram of methamphetamine, a gun, sex toys and glass chemical flasks. The Vietnamese woman was released when investigators determined she was a sex worker and not involved in the operation.

During the second day of the trial on Thursday, deputy prosecutor Che Song questioned Hong Hao Yuan, who admitted to buying $30 worth of crystal methamphetamine from Cambodian Ly Thiem Chhay.

“Yes, I used it. I smoked the drugs,” she said.

When Mr. Thiem Chhay delivered the drugs to her hotel room, Ms. Hong, who is in her 20s, said she handed him a black plastic bag and asked him to give it to a Chinese man.

Mr. Thiem Chhay, 26, told the court he did not know what was inside the bag, but was stopped at the hotel’s rear exit by a hotel security guard, who discovered 490 grams of crystal meth inside. “I didn’t know it was drugs,” he said.

Two hotel rooms, including Ms. Hong’s, had been booked using the passport of a 50-year-old Chinese national, whom authorities identified as Liv Werong; however he denied booking the rooms and said he had left his passport in the hands of his employer at a garment factory.

“I was not involved with it,” he said. “At that time, I was working in a factory.”

Two other defendants—Chinese nationals Yang Lishun, 45, and Zhou Bi Qiang, 45—testified on Tuesday, denying any wrongdoing.

The trial resumes next week.

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