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Anti-trafficking operation uncovers arms-dealing ring

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Sihanouk provincial police investigate an illegal confinement case in August. POLICE

Anti-trafficking operation uncovers arms-dealing ring

Preah Sihanouk provincial police are continuing to search for additional foreign suspects in four cases of illegal detention, one of which appears to be related to illegal arms dealing. Police have so far arrested 11 suspects – nine Chinese and two Cambodians.

During the first six months of the year, several foreign embassies requested intervention to rescue their citizens.

According to an August 27 social media post by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who also serves as chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), from August 23 to 26 Preah Sihanouk provincial police conducted a search for foreigners in four cases involving people who were allegedly confined and forced to work illegally.

On August 23, following a complaint to a police hotline, Sar Kheng’s working group and the provincial polices conducted a search and freed 27-year-old Malaysian woman Khoo Ai Lee from a company in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune.

When questioned, she said she had been illegally detained, and threatened with violence.

During the operation, police arrested eight Chinese suspects and confiscated a Zoraki handgun. Police investigating the source of the handgun arrested three suspects with more weapons on August 26.

The confiscated evidence included three rifles – a Ppsh 41, and AK derivative and a Karatay – with one extra magazine, four handguns – three Zorakis and one sig-sauer – as well as 265 rounds of ammunition and four vehicles.

The victim requested compensation and wished to be returned to her home country as the minor crimes unit is investigating the case.

Two more locations were raided on August 24 and 26. Eight Malaysian victims, one of them female, were freed in Commune III’s Village 1 and Commune IV’s Village 4 of Preah Sihanouk town. Police held two Malaysian managers for questioning.

In the final case, the police received a complaint to their hotline, but the complainant declined to cooperate beyond the initial investigation. Police are looking into the matter.

It was determined that the Malaysians were not trafficked, but had joined the company legally. Then become dissatisfied with the terms of their employment and complained so that they could quit and return to their home country.

All of the suspects and genuine victims in these cases have been referred to the National Police and the General Department of Immigration for further procedures, according to police report.

Sar Kheng said that for more than a year now, Cambodian authorities have received requests and complaints from some foreigners and their embassies in Cambodia for intervention and the rescue of their citizens by claiming that they were victims of human trafficking and smuggling, one of the most serious transnational crimes.

After careful consideration of those requests and complaints, in most cases, the Cambodian authorities conducted research and rescue operations immediately, waived fines related to their immigration status and facilitated their deportation from the Kingdom.

“From January 1 to August 20, Cambodian authorities found and rescued 865 foreigners in 87 cases, and sent 60 suspects to court in 17 cases,” he said.

In the fourth week of August, authorities launched operations to rescue victims in seven cases and rescued 25 victims of six different nationalities. They detained 23 suspects of four nationalities in Preah Sihanouk, Pursat, Svay Rieng and Oddar Meanchey provinces.

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