The Christmas spirit was apparently lost on police who arrested a man they say was caught red-handed mailing holiday-themed stuffed animals full of a methamphetamine precursor to Australia on Monday.
Vann Vai, a 46-year-old Vietnamese national, could serve 20 years in prison after allegedly being caught sending a large shipment of pseudoephedrine hidden inside stuffed animals to Australia via the post office, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.
“He was arrested by Cambodian National Police after a report from the Australian anti-drug police,” Chantharith said. “[He] brought over 12 kilograms of pseudoephedrine [from Vietnam], sending it to Australia via the post office.”
Before he was caught at the Chbar Ampov Post Office in Meanchey district’s Chbar Ampov commune, Vai had sent pseudoephedrine to Australia from the same location twice before; once on December 19 and once on January 8, Chantharith said. Together, these two shipments amounted to about 72.9 kilograms.
Australian narcotics police notified Cambodian authorities of Vai’s methods after intercepting both his previous shipments. Anti-drug police arrested Vai at about 9am on Monday after they checked the package he was trying to send, Chantharith said.
Drug traffickers often smuggle drugs into Cambodia and send them to other countries through the mail because the Kingdom’s postal system is behind the times in monitoring what is being shipped to and from Cambodia, said Sok Chour, vice director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Drug Police Department.
“Right now, we have no machines, tools or other equipment to scan for drugs at any post offices in Cambodia’s 24 provinces and cities,” Chour said yesterday. “This is the reason why drug dealers or foreign drug traffickers have used our Cambodian post offices to send drugs to other countries.”
Vai was brought into Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning yesterday afternoon, Chantharith said. He is currently detained, but has not yet been charged with a crime.
Neither Vai nor Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Yet Chakrya could be reached for comment yesterday.