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Suspected trafficker busted at airport

Anti-human trafficking officials arrested a woman at the Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday as she was allegedly in the process of trafficking five women – one of them underage – into sex slavery in Malaysia, police said yesterday.

Keo Thea, head of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police, said that plainclothes officers rounded up 12 people in the operation – one 35-year-old suspected broker named Lach Socheata, five victims and six relatives of the suspect.

Socheata, he said, reportedly confessed to arranging for the women’s travel, and to obtaining documents for a 16-year-old victim that showed her to be 27.

“They had the exact intention of working as sex workers at a club in Malaysia, but we were able to stop their travel immediately,” Thea said.

Socheata is due to be sent to court today, he added.

Houn Phalla, 49, the mother of the 16-year-old victim, said she “panicked” when she caught wind of where her daughter was going. “I rushed to file a complaint to police to intervene. Even though I am poor, I did not want to see her work like that.”

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