Women Get Five Years for Smuggling Attempt

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday sentenced two Vietnamese women to five years in prison for attempting to send pseudoephedrine—a common precursor in the synthesis of methamphetamine—to Australia in a box of bras.

Nguyen Thi Thu Suong, 48, who is also an Australian citizen, and Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, 28, were arrested at the Phkar Chhouk Tep II hotel in Tuol Kok district in October last year after staff at the Phnom Penh post office inspected a suspicious package that Ms. Anh attempted to mail to an address in Australia. 

Inside the package, postal workers found 12 bras along with seven metal cans and four plastic jars containing 1,838 grams of gray powder, 1,043 grams of dark yellow powder and 414 grams of white-and-yellow powder. All three powders later tested positive for pseudoephedrine, with levels of purity ranging from 62.59 percent to 90.34 percent, he said.

During their trial last month, Ms. Anh said she met Ms. Suong at a bus station in Ho Chi Minh City and that the two traveled to Phnom Penh together. She said Ms. Suong gave her the box and promised her 2 million Vietnamese dong (about $100) if she would mail it to Australia.

Ms. Suong denied Ms. Anh’s version of events and said she had merely shared the bus with Ms. Anh and her husband.

On Friday, Presiding Judge Thlan Phaneth announced that the court had found both women guilty of illegally transporting chemicals under the anti-drug law.

“The court convicts Nguyen Thi Thu Suong, 48, and Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, 28, and sentences them to five years in prison each and fines them 10 million riel [about $2,500] on charges of trafficking a chemical substance,” the judge said.

Ms. Anh’s lawyer, Sok Uorng, said he would confer with his client about whether to appeal the decision. He declined to comment further.

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