Thai National Nabbed in Major Drug Bust

A Thai man was arrested in Phnom Penh this week with 20 kg of methamphetamine and heroin smuggled from Laos, the source of a steady stream of drugs and drug traffickers seized in Cambodia over the past few years, the National Police said on Wednesday.

Chaipong Phisaiphan, a 52-year-old Thai national, was arrested on Monday in Sen Sok district’s Trapaing Chhouk village—a notorious drug slum—by officers from the National Police force and the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.

He had been under investigation for more than a month, according to deputy National Police chief Mok Chito.

“We arrested him with 3 kg of methamphetamine while he was attempting to traffic the drugs,” Lieutenant General Chito said on Wednesday, adding that police found another 17 kg of drugs when they raided his home on Tuesday.

“Police discovered three packages of meth, nine packages of ‘ice’ [crystal meth], 5,400 methamphetamine pills, and vehicles,” he said. “He confessed to buying the drugs from Laos—Champasak province. He did not confess to anything more.”

Mr. Chaipong’s arrest follows the trial of four suspects charged in connection with 55 kg of meth and heroin seized in Phnom Penh last year after being smuggled from the Golden Triangle—Cambodia’s largest-ever meth bust.

The suspected mastermind of that operation allegedly fled to Laos at some point after the bust, according to police, who have refused to identify the individual. A verdict in the case is due this month.

In May, three separate traffickers were arrested for smuggling crystal meth into Cambodia from Laos in a single week.

Last month, the chief monk at a pagoda in Stung Treng province was arrested and defrocked after being caught with nearly a kilogram of methamphetamine that police said he had smuggled from Laos. Two days later, a 67-year-old village chief was caught with 250 grams of crystal meth in the same border province.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Mr. Chaipong had confessed to both personally smuggling drugs across the Laos border and receiving shipments in Phnom Penh.

“He often entered Laos, Thailand and Cambodia,” General Vyrith said, explaining that he had seen corresponding stamps in the suspect’s passport.

Asked whether his officials had made any progress in identifying those behind what appeared to be a large-scale trafficking operation based in Laos, he said they were trying, but that information provided by drug suspects was often unreliable.

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