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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hockry blames own police for missing heroin

Hockry blames own police for missing heroin

MISSING heroin from a February drug bust gone wrong has anti-narcotics police and

the Ministry of Interior scrambling to secure their alibis as a judicial tribunal

investigates the matter.

An 8kg seizure reported by municipal anti-drug police on Feb 29 dwindled to 2.76kg

by the time co-Minister of Interior You Hockry turned over the heroin to the municipal

court on Aug 6. Because the evidence changed hands at least four times on its way

to trial, nobody seems to know exactly where the lost heroin went. But interviews

with high-ranking police and You Hockry confirmed long-standing suspicions that members

of Ministry of Interior anti-drug police and the military are selling narcotics.

"If it's 8kg involved, then someone must have taken some between the time of

the raid and when they took the drugs to [Deputy Chief of National Police] King Samnang's

office," You Hockry said on Tuesday. "But for sure there was no loss between

Mr. King Samnang's office and my office."

Hockry had reason to clarify his position after the heroin-recorded at 6kg when it

entered his office-weighed only 2.76kg when it left. During an early August press

conference, he explained that the evidence was unknowingly weighed at 6lbs on an

imperial scale.

Heng Peo, municipal anti-narcotics police chief, said his men seized 8kg of heroin

and apprehended three suspects in the raid near the Russian Market.

But the bust quickly disintegrated into chaos when Ministry of Interior police under

the command of Poly Da arrived on the scene.

"The Ministry of Interior anti-narcotics police arrested my police and released

the three suspects," Heng Peo said.

When the heroin arrived at the Ministry of Interior, he said he was shocked to discover

it weighed only 5kg. "By investigation my office knew it was 8kg, and the suspects

also say it is 8kg."

Crucial to the mystery are the suspects themselves-a Ministry of Interior anti-narcotics

policewoman, a RCAF soldier and an intervention police officer.

The two police officers were recaptured and interrogations revealed an organized

heroin trade within the Ministry of Interior police force, Heng Peo said.

"After I investigated more on the case. Now I know that police were dealing

the heroin," he said. "The policewoman reported that they were allowed

to sell heroin for a 10 percent commission."

Documents obtained by the Post showed that undercover agents were initially offered

3kg for $28,500 on the day of the bust, and if everything went smoothly, the dealers

would immediately sell them another 5kg. After the 3kg bag was produced, the municipal

police sprang their trap. The suspects and evidence were then seized by the Ministry

of Interior police.

You Hockry said the disappearance of Met Sarom, the Ministry of Interior cop who

brought the evidence to King Samnang's office, adds to the suspicion surrounding

the case.

"The man who knows most about this has fled-Met Sarom," Hockry said. "He

might be involved. When we arrest him, we will know more."

The heroin was weighed once more before You Hockry locked it in his office safe.

A written statement signed on Aug 13 by Meas Phin, Ministry of Interior chief of

technical affairs, said he weighed one package of heroin with a scale on Feb 29 and

recorded the results as 6-then believed to be kilograms. Afterwards he sealed the

package with wax and made a secret mark to ensure against tampering.

The statement said Meas Phin checked the package again on Aug 6 and found the seal

and mark undisturbed. He then re-weighed it with the same scale-now known to measure

in pounds-and got the same results.

The scale and heroin were then turned over to the municipal court. To further document

his side of the story, You Hockry recorded the final weighing on video tape and bought

a similar scale to prove that an imperial scale can be found in Cambodia.

Heng Peo said he was called into Hockry's office the day before the evidence went

to the court and was asked by the Minister and King Samnang to sign for the evidence.

"I say I can sign, but only if I am allowed to re-examine the evidence,"

Heng Peo said. The request was refused. "When I don't sign, You Hockry got very

angry with me."

Heng Peo said that no matter what the tribunal's inquiry uncovers, the reputation

of the entire Cambodian police force will be tarnished while others within the Ministry

of Interior are protected by their superior status.

"Many police are good for this country, but a few of the police are no good,"

he said. "If I lost the heroin, they would have thrown me into T3 [Prison],

but for a minister, maybe it is not a problem."

You Hockry said he believed an honest weighing mistake made by his office is being

exploited for political gain.

"The big question for everybody is whether the heroin was lost under my custody,"

Hockry said.

"I don't want to accuse anyone, because I don't have the evidence to prove anything...

[But] to accuse me of losing the heroin after I show all the evidence here, I think

to push beyond that there must be some political motivation."

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