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Thai women charged in cocaine bust

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday levelled drug charges against two Thai women accused of collaborating to smuggle more than three kilograms of cocaine into Cambodia in a piece of luggage aboard a flight from Singapore, police said.

Major General Khieu Saman, director of the Anti-Drug Department and acting general secretary of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Varangkran A Phomdee, 29, and her alleged accomplice Tangboo Ketkarn, 31, were charged with possessing, transporting and trafficking drugs, and awaiting trial at Prey Sar prison.

“If they are found guilty, they will be facing at least 20 years each in prison,” Saman said.

According to Saman, Varangkran, who had been a passenger on the flight, was arrested last Tuesday when she returned to Phnom Penh International Airport to retrieve the bag, which contained just over 3.6 kilograms of cocaine.

Tangboo, he added, was arrested the following day by anti-drug police at Phnom Penh’s Plaza Hotel in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak II commune based on information provided by Varangkran.

“These Thai women were in a network of drug traffickers,” Saman said. “They came to Phnom Penh in order to receive these packages of cocaine . . . and to transfer it to Thailand.”

According to the two women’s confessions, said Saman, the confiscated cocaine was brought to Singapore from Ecuador by a third party whom he declined to name because the ongoing investigation.

“We now have already identified the owner of this confiscated cocaine . . . We already have his photo, and he is now living in Bangkok, Thailand,” he said, adding that Thai and American agents were collaborating to arrest the suspect.

Thai police and US anti-drug officials in Thailand could not be reached for comment, nor could the two accused and their defence lawyers.

According to UN Office on Drugs and Crime statistics, this one 3.6 kilogram seizure is more than three times greater than the total amount of all the cocaine seized in Cambodia in 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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