Teddy Bear Drug Smuggler Caught at It Again

Anti-drug police in Phnom Penh on Thursday revealed another scheme by the drug smuggler caught only last month trying to mail teddy bears stuffed with a methamphetamine precursor chemical to Australia. This time it was giant white bath towels soaked in the tranquilizer Ketamine, which is recoverable from the dry towels as white powder.

The 39 extra-large towels, folded neatly and wrapped in plastic, were found during a search of 46-year-old Vietnamese national Van Vay’s apartment in Tuol Kok district’s Toek La’ak commune following his arrest on January 28, said In Song, deputy police chief of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department.

“Each towel measures 1.8-by-0.91 meters, and all of them were discovered to contain the hardened white powder,” he said.

Mr. Song said police are still searching for a second Vietnamese man who rented the apartment with Mr. Vay but managed to escape before police could arrest him.

Cambodian authorities nabbed Mr. Vay after a tip-off by Australian Federal Police, who informed them that six boxes of teddy bears filled with about 80 kg of pseudoephedrine had already arrived in the country in December.

It was the latest in a litany of inventive attempts by drug smugglers in Cambodia to outwit Australian customs via the postal service, including heroin disguised as Korean Red Ginseng Tonic and red hair dye.

It is not known whether the towels were also bound by post for Australia, though ketamine, which is considered a “soft drug” and goes by the street name “Special K,” is popular in the party scene there and Australians have in the past attempted to smuggle vials of the drug out of Cambodia.

Ketamine was until recently freely available in Cambodian pharmacies as it is used as a sedative in human and veterinary medicine, but it is no longer easily procurable in Phnom Penh due to its misuse by thrill-seeking Western backpackers.

In November, 22-year-old Australian Luke McCann was caught by Thai police smuggling almost 100 10-milimeter bottles of the illicit substance across the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border checkpoint.

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