Four people, including two Chinese nationals, were yesterday sentenced to life in prison on drug-trafficking charges after being arrested in June last year with about 55 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin – one of the Kingdom’s largest busts in recent memory.
A fifth defendant, meanwhile, was handed a lighter sentence for cooperating with police.
“The court sentences Li Zhou, 46, Cambodian; Li Yong, aka Chai, Chinese; Deng Yuan Ping, 53, Chinese; and Dam Nha, 53, Cambodian, to life in prison, and orders the accused to pay a fine of 60 million riel [about $15,000] each to the state for drug production, processing and trafficking,” judge Pich Vicheator said yesterday.
Co-defendant Phal Rany, 24, aka KK, was charged with participating in a criminal gang, and was sentenced to just five years thanks to a request for leniency from police. She was also fined 6 million riel (about $1,500).
Dam Nha, the group’s purported ringleader, was sentenced in absentia, and is currently listed as wanted on the website of Interpol. The court ordered the confiscation of all his personal property, including houses in Phnom Penh, Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng, and 30 hectares of farmland.
The court also ordered the confiscation of all funds in six bank accounts linked to the defendants, but did not disclose the amount.
At the time of the defendants’ arrest, anti-drug authorities valued the drugs at about $3 million, with National Police Lieutenant General Mok Chito calling the group “the largest criminal drug group hiding in Cambodia”.