Venezuelan Caught at Airport With Cocaine-Stuffed Suitcase

A Venezuelan woman was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday night after arriving from Brazil with nearly 1.45 kg of cocaine inside her suitcase, officials said on Tuesday.

Adelys Alviarez, 22, was scrutinized upon arrival as every passenger who travels from Brazil is considered “a high-risk target,” said In Song, an officer for the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.

The 1,449 grams of cocaine found inside Ms. Alviarez’s suitcase had a street value of about $144,900, and likely was destined for Thailand, as there is no market for cocaine in Cambodia, he said.

“For most of the cases we’ve busted, the final destination is Thailand,” he said. The woman likely intended to hand off the drugs to someone in Cambodia, because “us­ually when we arrest people at the airport, almost 100 percent of the time they are a mule,” he added.

Because information of her arrest was leaked, authorities have not been able to track down her accomplices, he said.

Ms. Alviarez was taken from the airport to the ministry’s anti-drug department, where she was further questioned and was still being held last night, Mr. Song said.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Ms. Alviarez was arrested at about 10 p.m. after a flight from Brazil that stopped in Ethiopia and Bangkok before arriving in Phnom Penh.

In a separate case, a Malaysian man, also arrested at the airport on Monday after being caught with 1 kg of heroin strapped to his thighs, was being questioned at the anti-drug department while police searched for accomplices, Mr. Song said.

A man from Hong Kong was identified as the mastermind behind the heroin trafficking, but he had already fled Cambodia—likely to Vietnam—by the time police learned where he had been staying, he said.

Newspaper reports that tipped off the ringleader to the manhunt were “very regrettable,” he said.

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