A 38-year-old U.S. national who was arrested by anti-drug police in Phnom Penh on August 8 on suspicion of being a drug trafficker and entering the country illegally was deported back to the U.S. Thursday night, according to immigration police.
Anti-drug police arrested Christopher James Petersen, 38, at a rental property on Street 108 in Daun Penh district after a two-month search that was assisted by the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), In Song, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police, said at the time.
“Mr. Petersen was scheduled to leave Phnom Penh International Airport at 11:20 p.m. on Korean Airlines flight KE690 to Seoul, where he will board a connecting flight to the U.S.,” said Chhour Kimny, chief of Phnom Penh Airport Police.
U.S. media widely reported after his arrest that Mr. Petersen was a fugitive drug smuggler wanted for trafficking large amounts of crystal methamphetamine, although a statement on the DEA’s website stated that the suspect was charged by the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office in December for “fraudulently acquiring, diverting and distributing large amounts of oxycodone,” a highly addictive prescription drug.
Cambodia and the U.S. do not have a formal extradition treaty, although the Cambodian government has in the past deported U.S. citizens to be tried in the U.S.
“Mr. Petersen is not guilty of being involved in anything illegal in Cambodia, we have just cooperated with the DEA and the U.S. Embassy and we expect he will be back in the U.S. soon,” said In Song, deputy anti-drug police chief at the Ministry of Interior.
A second U.S. national, 52-year-old Stanley Jeffrey Tobb, was also deported Thursday via Taipei, Taiwan, on flight DR266, said Mr. Kimny, though the airport police chief said he did not know the reason for Mr. Tobb’s extradition.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh declined to comment on either case and said he could not confirm the identity of either man.