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Medicine smugglers jailed

Medicine smugglers jailed

120320_05

After being found guilty yesterday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed four men prison sentences and fines for their involvement in a smuggling ring, which brought more than two and a half tonnes of illegal cold medicine into the Kingdom from South Korea.

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The director of Mega Dragon Logistics (Cambodia), 36-year-old Teng Sophal, was sentenced to nine years jail, while one of his logistics officers, Chea Po Hok, 28, was handed a five-year sentence.

A Thai-Khmer interpreter involved in the smuggling scheme, Heng Chea, 69, was sentenced to nine years, while Bou Hael, 70, who is believed to have escaped to Thailand, was sentenced in absentia to nine years.

Teng Sophal and Heng Chea were ordered to pay fines of US$7,500 each.

Both men were arrested in December 2010 while transporting 7 million pills, weighing 2,517 kilograms, from Preah Sihanouk province to Phnom Penh.

Ministry of Health officials identified the pills as Col-Col-Co, a cold medicine produced in South Korea containing pseudoephedrine and banned in the Kingdom due to its use in the manufacturing of methamphetamines.

Heng Chea was arrested on the same day in December after his name was given to police during questioning.

Teng Sophal said he was not the owner of the shipments or aware the cargo he had been shipping was illegal in nature.

He said his company was hired by Bou Hael and a Thai national known as Peter to transport the cargo.

“I agreed to transport the shipments and work for them because I was told the shipments were silica gels,” Teng Sophal said.

“I was not aware that the shipments were illegal or drugs.”

According to an agreement between his company, Bou Hael and Peter, the shipments were to be exported to Bangkok after arriving in Phnom Penh, he said.

Defence lawyers for the convicted men could not be reached for comment.

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