A Canadian-Vietnamese drug smuggler wanted for attempting to bring more than a tonne of cocaine into the Kingdom was handed over to Cambodian authorities by Indonesian police on Friday to serve out a life sentence.
Le Hung Phi was arrested by Indonesian police in Bali on October 25 following a “red notice” arrest request from Interpol.
Cambodian police said Phi was one of the four Canadian-Vietnamese ringleaders of a drug-trafficking operation that had attempted to smuggle 1,100kg of cocaine into Cambodia from Ecuador in 2016.
Deputy National Police chief Mok Chito told The Post on Sunday that Phi was sent to Cambodia from Indonesia on Friday, and he was behind bars on Saturday to serve out a 2016 court ruling in absentia that saw him sentenced to life in prison.
“Canadian police did not arrest Phi for us because he has Canadian nationality. But when he was in Bali, Indonesian police arrested him and informed us. We picked him up on Friday. He is someone the court sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016,” Chito said.
Cocaine weighing 1,100kg was hidden inside two containers of fish being transported from Ecuador on a ship bound for the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.
Cambodian authorities searched the containers following a tip-off from Chinese police after the ship docked in Shanghai, Chito said.
He said a Cambodian police investigation found that a Vietnamese man named Nguyen Vien Quang was to pick up the huge consignment of drugs. Quang was arrested at the Bavet international border crossing in Svay Rieng province while trying to flee Cambodia for Vietnam.
Chito said Quang told police that there were four others involved in the drug smuggling ring, all of them Vietnamese holding Canadian nationality who had fled to Canada.
He said until the jailing of Phi, only Quang had been serving the life sentences handed down in the case in 2016. Red notices had been issued by Interpol for the others as well.
“After arresting Nguyen Vien Quang, we found out while questioning him that there were four others involved in the drug-trafficking operation. Further investigation revealed they had already left Cambodia,” Chito said.
Meanwhile, Stung Treng police on Friday arrested an Indonesian in the province’s O’Svay commune in Borei O’Svay district suspected of trafficking nearly 1kg (949.8g) of methamphetamine.
A police officer who asked not to be named said the suspect was charged by Stung Treng Provincial Court and placed in pre-trial detention on Saturday after his arrest for smuggling the drugs from Laos.
He said the suspect was attempting to get to Siem Reap airport and board a flight to Phnom Penh, with Hong Kong as his final destination.
The officer said the suspect had identified several accomplices in Cambodia during questioning, but he declined to reveal the names as the National Police were on the lookout for them.