Thai Drug Smuggler Sentenced to 30 Years and Fined $12,500

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced a Thai woman to 30 years in prison and fined her $12,500 for trafficking about 13 kg of cocaine into the country in August 2012, in what was among the largest seizures of the drug ever by Cambodian authorities.

Judge Heng Sokna said Bucha Freedaporn had been charged according to the country’s anti-drug laws for smuggling co­caine with intent to distribute and had 30 days to file an appeal.

“After hearing this case last month, the court has decided to sentence Bucha Freedaporn, 35, a Thai national, to 30 years in prison and a fine of 50 million riel,” municipal court Judge Sokna told the courtroom.

Walking out of the court after the decision was handed down, a tearful Ms. Bucha, cradling her young baby in her arms, declined to say whether she would appeal the decision.

The day before Ms. Bucha was arrested at Phnom Penh In­ter­national Airport, another Thai woman, Rodsiri Rungtiwa, was also found with about 13 kg of co­caine in her luggage.

Both of them had flown into Cambodia on the same SilkAir flight from Singapore, but Ms. Bucha’s luggage was delayed and she was arrested when she returned to Phnom Penh International Airport to pick it up the next day. Ms. Rod­siri has yet to face trial.

At her hearing on September 25, Ms. Bucha said that she had agreed to carry a package from Brazil back to Thailand at the request of a South African man in Bangkok, but said that she did not know what was in her luggage.

Ms. Bucha and Ms. Rod­siri were among four people arrested for trafficking cocaine from South America, through Singa­pore and into Phnom Penh, during a weeklong stretch in August 2012 in which about 30 kg of cocaine were seized, an un­precedented amount in the country.

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