Two men linked to the largest seizure of amphetamines ever in Cambodia were charged with drug smuggling in Kratie provincial court Thursday, officials said.
Sin Thean, 28, and Lorn Sis-ophon, 29, were arrested Tuesday after police in Kratie found 559,600 amphetamine pills stashed on a docked boat.
A third suspect, Phoeung Buneng, 40, was also arrested and is accused of offering a $27,000 bribe to military police in order to secure the release of his two accomplices, said Penh Vibol, the court’s chief prosecutor. He will be charged after police finish their questioning, he said.
The seizure is believed to be several times larger than any previous haul of amphetamines in Cambodia and is testament to an upshot in trafficking on the Mekong River in the northeast.
The suspects charged Thursday said they had made at least two previous trips down the Mekong from Stung Treng province to Kompong Cham province, carrying loads of amphetamines on the roof of a speedboat, said Penh Vibol. They were paid about $1,500 for each trip, he said.
He said that a judge at the court is conducting an investigation of the trafficking ring that employed the two men.
“Only the rich man or the powerful man can be smuggling this [great] amount of amphetamines,” Penh Vibol said.
Authorities patrolling the river in past months have made other seizures of heroin and amphetamines. Many of the narcotics flowing through the country’s eastern half pass through Stung Treng’s Sambor district, according to Sek Ny, Kratie’s military police chief, and So Neak, chief of Kratie’s provincial police.
Police have confiscated 2.5 kg of heroin and 320 amphetamine pills in that district in recent months, they said.
Officials believe most of the amphetamines seized this week were headed to Phnom Penh for domestic consumption or export to the Thai-Cambodian border.