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General’s gun smuggling ring busted

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Dozens of AK-47 rifles hidden at a fruit plantation in Battambang province’s Phnom Proek district were found on November 12. FACEBOOK

General’s gun smuggling ring busted

The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices.

Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of the National Military Police, said on November 22 that the six officers were arrested pursuant to warrants issued by the court.

He said some of the six arrested had already confessed their involvement with gun smuggling, while others continued to deny the accusations, saying that they had not been involved with any crimes.

“Now, the case is in the hands of the court who will continue the investigation and see how many of them were really involved or not involved and that will be up to the court to decide,” Sokha said.

According to Sokha, there have been two gun smuggling cases so far this year but authorities did not identify or locate the people involved in the first case, which happened on October 19 in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district.

Sokha did not give any details on the first case but The Post has learned that military officials found 42 rifle magazines and 508 bullets during a joint patrol of the border in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district – which borders Phnom Proek district to the south where the second case occurred.

For the latest case, he said a total of 105 guns were recovered on November 12 and 13 in Phnom Proek district, including 100 AK-47’s, two 12.7mm heavy machine guns and three M79 grenade launchers.

Sokha said that after questioning those involved, it seems likely that the two cases are connected and the work of just one group of smugglers.

“The ammunition we found in the first case could be used to load the guns we seized in the second case,” he said.

Sokha said the first suspect was arrested on November 19 in Siem Reap province before two others were located and arrested on November 20 and 21 in Battambang. Three more suspects were then arrested on November 22 in Phnom Penh.

All of them have been sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal court. He said one of the suspects is a two-star military general, or Major General, and another is a one-star general, or Brigadier General. They are the commander and deputy commander in charge of a weapon maintenance and repair workshop.

Two other suspects are a captain and lieutenant colonel whose job was to repair weapons in that same workshop and the last two suspects are the deputy commander for the Kamrieng district Military Police and a warrant officer from the Phnom Proek district Military Police.

Sokha said he was not at liberty to name the other suspects who his officers are still searching for because of the ongoing investigation.

“We are now trying to figure out who they are exactly because they were in military uniform but we can’t find their names on our enrolment list. So we cannot say if they are military but using false names or people who were just disguised as military. We’ll only know once we manage to arrest them,” he said.

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