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Drug haul was heading to West

A policeman holds packaged marijuana yesterday morning during a press briefing in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.
A policeman holds packaged marijuana yesterday morning during a press briefing in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. Hong Menea

Drug haul was heading to West

Anti-drug authorities yesterday announced that the nearly 1.5 tonnes of marijuana seized last Friday was destined for Europe, where it would have fetched millions of dollars.

The head of the Anti-Drug Department at the National Police, Khieu Saman, said at a press conference yesterday that the August 21 crackdown, which followed a lengthy investigation, saw marijuana storage and processing sites raided in three different places in Russey Keo and Meanchey districts.

The raids netted 1,487 kilograms of dried marijuana and 1.5 kilograms of concentrated marijuana oil, along with equipment for processing the drug.

The three suspects arrested in relation to the raids – whom Saman identified as Vet Sung, 48; Suon Pheakdey, 33; and Sorm Dara, also known as Barang, 36 – had imported the marijuana packed in Dao brand coffee packages, and were going to process it in Cambodia before sending it on to a third country.

“It was [put in] a high-tech wrapping in order to distribute it to the third countries for a high price.

The seized marijuana costs about $7 million, and for the seized marijuana oil, it is estimated that it costs $50 per gram” for a total of $75,000, Saman said.

According to Saman, the people behind the alleged smuggling ring are believed to be based in Europe, though police had previously believed the drugs would be distributed locally.

The seized contraband, he added, is slated to be burned as soon as court officials have settled on a charge and have determined it is no longer needed as evidence.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Seang Sok said yesterday that formal charges had still not been decided.

“We will check on the case after sending it to the court; [today], I will continue questioning them,” Sok said.

Officials with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Bangkok could not be reached yesterday.

Friday’s bust was one of the largest of the year, though several marijuana crops have been destroyed in 2015.

Earlier this month, some 171 plants were uprooted in Kampong Speu province, and in June, a crop of nearly 8,000 plants was discovered on a sesame farm in Pursat province and destroyed.

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