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Prey Sar inmates in ‘meth cartel’

Prisoners pose for a photo with packages of drugs and members of the Gendamerie earlier this week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Prisoners pose for a photo with packages of drugs and members of the Gendamerie earlier this week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Prey Sar inmates in ‘meth cartel’

A man arrested over the weekend allegedly in possession of more than 3 kilograms of meth and more than 100,000 yama tablets has been linked to a drug-trafficking network operating out of Prey Sar prison, according to a police report made public yesterday.

Thirty-two-year-old suspect Dy Thoura, alias “Tra”, was arrested at a bus station near Chroy Changvar bridge on Sunday in possession of the substantial haul of pills and powdered meth.

Following police questioning, Thoura revealed he had five accomplices, all of whom are current convicts in Prey Sar. The group included two Cambodians, one Vietnamese and two “Africans,” whose nationalities were not given.

According to Thoura, orders would be transmitted by phone to traffickers on the outside, with the two Cambodian convicts acting as “mediators”.

Military police spokesman Eng Hy yesterday said the five convicts were arrested on Wednesday, but declined to say where the drugs had been headed when Thoura was arrested.

“On February 28, we arrested one person; we asked him who the head is, which led to the arrest of the others on March 2,” he said, adding police had “quietly investigated Thoura for many months”.

Prisoners pose for a photo in Phnom Penh with 103,600 seized pills – used to spell out the figure – after they were busted on drug trafficking allegations earlier this week. Photo supplied
Prisoners pose for a photo in Phnom Penh with 103,600 seized pills – used to spell out the figure – after they were busted on drug trafficking allegations earlier this week. Photo supplied

As to how a drug network was able to operate from within a prison, Hy said this was outside his purview. “The control in the prison is the [responsibility] of the prison, under the supervision of the Interior Ministry,” he said. Calls to multiple Interior Ministry officials went unanswered yesterday.

Speaking last week at the ministry, National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun called out the Kingdom’s prisons for being “the headquarters for crime”.

Am Sam Ath, senior technical adviser for rights group Licadho, said “the government should strengthen their control inside prisons, and prison officials should receive more education about drugs”.

Sorn Sudalen, a lawyer with Licadho’s prison project, said “it is quite a surprise for me. I never read such news in the world,” adding tighter regulations should be put on cell phone use inside, which is illegal but widespread.

“The government must investigate this case to know how such a drug operation can happen.”

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