Four suspects were charged yesterday for allegedly smuggling nearly 55 kilograms of heroin and methamphetamine – worth an estimated $3 million – from Laos to Cambodia, a prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court said yesterday.
Phal Rany, also known as KK, 22, was arrested in Stung Treng province on June 16 and charged with participating in a criminal drug-trafficking organisation, according to vice-prosecutor Um Sopheak.
He added that three men were arrested in Phnom Penh the following day and charged yesterday with producing and trafficking drugs.
The men, who were Chinese nationals, were named as Li Yong, 41; Deng Yuan Ping, 53; and Li Zhou, 48.
They will each face a life sentence if they are found guilty under the Cambodian Anti-Drug Law.
“They were the largest criminal drug group hiding in Cambodia,” said Lieutenant General Mok Chito of the National Police, who is in charge of anti-drug affairs.
The arrest is the biggest drug-trafficking crackdown to occur this year, and some of the drugs were likely slated for export, he added.
“They smuggled these drugs from the Golden Triangle in Lao to Phnom Penh in order to redistribute them in Phnom Penh and continue distribution in Taiwan.”
Police seized a total of nearly 55 kilograms, including 345 grams of heroin, as well as other drug paraphernalia. They believe Stung Treng was being used as a transit hub.
“If we had not cracked down and arrested them in time, it would actually have created a serious impact to the health of people and our society,” Chito said.
He added that police are now seeking several other suspects involved in the ring who have so far evaded arrest.
In May, six Mekong countries, including Cambodia, pledged to collaborate in curbing the production and flow of synthetic drugs throughout the region.
According to a report released in March by International Narcotics Control Board, the use of methamphetamines among Cambodians under 29 has been growing over the past few years due to meth labs popping up in the countryside and trafficking from Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand Southeast Asia’s most aggressive opium producing region.