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Municipal court charges US national with drug trafficking

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Andrew Howard and Chheng Sok Leakhena leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being charged with drug trafficking.

An American man and his Cambodian girlfriend had been charged with trafficking crystal methamphetamine in Phnom Penh, a police official said yesterday.

Pen Roth, deputy municipal police chief in Phnom Penh, said 46-year-old Andrew Howard and his 26-year-old girlfriend Chheng Sok Leakhena, were arrested yesterday at about 5am during a raid on the New Castle Guesthouse in Daun Penh district’s Psar Thmey III commune.

“Howard Andrew was officially charged with drug trafficking and drug abuse,” he said.

“His Cambodian girlfriend was charged as an accomplice. They will be sent to Prey Sar prison today for further investigation and to await trials in the future,” he said.

Pen Roth said police raided the guesthouse and found the suspects in their room with two packages of crystal methamphetamine – commonly called ice – after receiving information that Andrew was a “big drug trafficker” from other suspects.

“We will ask the court to strongly punish him in order that it can be a message for other foreign people to know that Cambodia is not a place for drug smuggling or drug abuse,” he said.

Howard Andrew and Chheng Sok Leakhena declined to comment on the charges at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

In a separate raid on March 14, Pen Roth said police had arrested a 22-year-old bar girl caught selling drugs at a guesthouse in the same commune. She was found carrying four packages of crystal methamphetamine.

An ongoing crackdown has netted more than 300 suspected drug users and traffickers in Phnom Penh this year, according to police.

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