Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Four arrested in raid targeting fake coffee

Four arrested in raid targeting fake coffee

A policeman inspects a coffee bag containing fake coffee
A policeman inspects a coffee bag containing fake coffee yesterday during a raid in Sen Sok district. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Four arrested in raid targeting fake coffee

Police have warned coffee lovers there could be a couple of bad batches circulating and percolating in Phnom Penh after a raid on a fake coffee enterprise in Sen Sok district’s Khmuonh commune yesterday.

Officers arrested four men during the joint operation in Banlar Sa Et village and also seized 30 tonnes of raw materials used to manufacture the potentially toxic brew.

“The coffee was made of overcooked soybean and corn and then mixed with chemical substances in order to get the odor to smell like real coffee,” said operation leader General Long Sreng. “A small amount of coffee was then grinded and added with those things before it was packed,” he added.

General Sreng, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-economic crime department, said experts traced the suspicious mix to a handicraft factory opened six years ago.

According to a patent connected with the site – lodged with the Sen Sok district tax authorities last year – the fake coffee was sold under brands including MeKong, Nam Nguyen, Tay Nguyen and Laos.

During the raid, conducted together with the Phnom Penh municipal deputy prosecutor, Phnom Penh municipal checkpoint officials and local authorities, officers arrested 42-year-old dual Vietnamese-Cambodian citizen Seang Dara, the alleged owner, and three Vietnamese workers.

They also seized raw materials totaling 34.9 tonnes, including 17 kinds of chemicals allegedly used in the process.

Dr Ly Cheng Huy, managing director of Cambodia Health website, said the coffee’s toxicity would depend on the exact chemical mix, though he suggested that it could be potentially carcinogenic.

“It depends on the chemicals they use, the amount of flour and what they insert for smell and taste,” he said.

Police trumpeted the raid as their first big fake coffee bust of 2015, although it’s unclear how many similar operations they’ve shut down.

In 2012, according to Vietnam’s Thanh Nien news, Vietnamese police shut down a fake coffee operation in Ho Chi Minh that was combining soybeans, corn, chemicals used in dishwashing soap and industrial colour powders to brew their counterfeit java.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release