A lieutenant colonel could face life in prison after being charged yesterday by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on a raft of drug charges, police and court officials said.
According to deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Houth, Lieutenant Colonel Keo Saroeun – who, along with five accomplices was busted last week – was a large-scale dealer at the head of an international drug production and trafficking ring.
“Keo Saroeun was the ringleader and mastermind of these drug trafficking and producing activities,” he said.
“I have levied five charges against him: drug trafficking, drug producing, drug repackaging [for distribution], possession of illegal drugs and illegal weapon use. If he is found guilty, he may get a life sentence.”
Under the penal code, he added, Saroeun could face a minimum punishment of 30 years in prison, and a maximum of life.
Major General Sok Chour, deputy director of Anti-Drug Police Department at the Ministry of Interior, said Saroeun, his wife, Pov Bopha, fellow suspect and Vietnamese national Bun Tha and three other unnamed suspects arrested in a string of raids last week are now being detained in Prey Sar prison, where they will await trial.
Saroeun, his wife and four others were arrested after a shootout in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Svay Prey I commune in Chamkarmon district. Four other suspects were arrested at different houses over the course of the next two days.
In total, police seized nearly 6.5 kilograms of ready-to-sell crystal methamphetamine and heroin, and some 75 kilograms of precursor chemicals, along with several guns and equipment used for producing drugs.
Though 10 suspects were initially arrested, four were released after questioning, but according to Sok Chour police are seeking more members of the ring still at large.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org