Two Charged With Smuggling 3 kg of Heroin

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged two men with international drug smuggling after they allegedly mailed 3 kg of heroin to Australia, according to Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang.

Ma Sitha, 46, of Sen Sok district, and Mao Sopha, 43, of Russei Keo district, have been accused of hiding the three kilograms of heroin among an assortment of goods mailed from Siem Reap provincial post office to Australia on May 10, Mr Sam Ang said. The judge added that the heroin arrived on June 8 in Australia, where customs officers discovered it.

Mr Sitha and Mr Sopha were arrested on Friday in separate areas of Phnom Penh by internal security department police officers who were executing court-ordered warrants, the judge said.

The two men were sent to provisional detention in Prey Sar prison yesterday, said Mr Sam Ang, adding that the case will continue to be investigated. Smuggling drugs out of Cambodia carries a prison sentence of 20 to 30 years.

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes’ “Drug Control Brief: Cambodia,” which was issued in May, the country is currently “being used as a transit country for drugs, both by air and land.”

In March, a Danish woman serving 15 years in prison for attempting to mail drugs out of the country was turned over to Danish authorities and returned to Copenhagen. Johanne Vinther Axelsen, 56, was arrested in April 2008 when she tried to mail thousands of over-the-counter painkillers stuffed in children’s toys, clothes and envelopes to addresses in the US and Canada.

(Additional reporting by DC Foster)

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