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Taxi driver caught in drug bust 'innocent'

Taxi driver caught in drug bust 'innocent'

The Cambodian taxi driver who was arrested on Wednesday after driving a Laotian man to Phnom Penh with more than three kilograms of methamphetamine tablets and crystals is innocent of any wrongdoing, anti-drug police officials said yesterday.

Yin Panharith, acting director of the Interior Ministry Anti-Drug Department’s K9 Office, said yesterday evening that interrogation of the Laotian, 49-year-old Khamphun Thomalat, revealed that taxi driver, Chea Buntong, 23, was unaware he was transporting drugs.

“Based on the answers of the Laotian suspect, he [Buntong] was not in fact involved in drug dealing. The Laotian hired him to take him to Phnom Penh for 50,000 riel [about $12.50], saying he needed to bring a statue to his boss,” Panharith said. “We are now preparing a recommendation to the court that the Cambodian driver be released along with his car.”

He added that Thomalat revealed under questioning that he had three accomplices, including his boss, who remains at large. The ringleader is believed to have travelled to Phnom Penh’s Nagaworld casino, where Panharith said undercover officers have been deployed.

“We will keep searching for these three criminals.”

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