Venezuelan, Malaysian Charged Over Airport Drug Smuggling Attempts

Two foreigners arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday—one with a suitcase containing nearly 1.5 kg of cocaine and the other with 1 kg of heroin strapped to his thighs— were charged and jailed on Friday, officials said.

Adelys Lopez Alviarez, 22, of Ven­ezuela, traveled to Cambodia from Brazil with 1,449 grams of co­caine valued at about $144,900, while Ahmad Johari Chung, 22, of Ma­laysia, was caught trying to pass through security with 1,068 grams of heroin valued at $700,000.

Both were charged with drug trafficking at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday afternoon and sent to Prey Sar prison to await trial, according to Sary Botsatya, a bureau chief at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.

The crime is punishable by 20 years to life in prison, depending on the quantity and purity of the drugs in question.

Ms. Lopez Alviarez was arrested at about 10 p.m. Monday after landing in Phnom Penh on a flight that departed from Brazil and stopped in Ethiopia and Thailand, according to Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Au­thority for Combating Drugs.

Mr. Chung was arrested at the airport at 12:08 p.m. after checking in for a Bassaka Air flight to Macau, General Vyrith said.

At the time of his arrest, In Song, an anti-drug department official, said a Hong Kong man had been identified as the mastermind be­hind the heroin ring, but that the man had fled Cambodia—likely to Vietnam—by the time police learned where he had been staying.

Mr. Song said the mastermind was tipped off by news reports about Mr. Chung’s arrest, a situation he described as “very regrettable.”

Mr. Song and Gen. Vyrith said both arrests were carried out in a public area of the airport and witnessed by a number of customs, immigration and police officials—making it hard to know who leaked the information to the media.

“At the airport, there are many law enforcement officials and there are many different types and ways of receiving information and it is easily for it to be leaked,” the general said on Wednesday.

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