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Thai ‘smuggler’ tried

Thai national Preadaporn Bucha, 36, who allegedly smuggled 10 kilograms of cocaine to Cambodia last year, exits Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court
Thai national Preadaporn Bucha, 36, who allegedly smuggled 10 kilograms of cocaine to Cambodia last year, exits Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court. HONG MENEA

Thai ‘smuggler’ tried

A Thai woman who claims she was only trying to meet her Facebook boyfriend now faces life imprisonment in Cambodia for drug smuggling.

Preedaporn Bucha, 36, was tried by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for “keeping, transporting and trafficking” 13 kilograms of cocaine through the Phnom Penh International Airport in August 2012.

“She smuggled the drugs from Brazil to Cambodia, and her destination was to bring it into Thailand via a transfer in Cambodia,” said Judge Heng Sok Na.

According to the police investigation, after meeting a Brazilian man named Nick on Facebook, Preedaporn searched for a way to meet her long-distance lover. A Thai woman named Kung offered an easy solution: She would buy Preedaporn’s round-trip airfare and give her $1,000 if only she would fetch a suitcase belonging to Kung from a man named Kevin in Brazil.

Colonel Yeng Bunna, chief of the Anti-Drug Police Office, said on a stopover during the return flight from Brazil, police detained Preedaporn and searched her bags, finding 10 packages of cocaine.

While awaiting charges in a Cambodian prison, she discovered she was pregnant, and gave birth in jail.

During her trial yesterday, Preedaporn denied her involvement in drug trafficking.

“I confess that I was the owner of this luggage. It was sent with me by a … person named Kevin from Brazil to a Thai woman named Kung living in Bangkok. But I did not know that there were drugs hiding inside it,” she told the court.

Preedaporn was one of several drug runners caught last August trying to smuggle substances from Brazil to Thailand. However, Yung Phanith, Preedaporn’s defence lawyer, said his client was the only unsuspecting person used by the traffickers.

“My client did not know in advance and had no willingness to smuggle these drugs,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to ask the court to reduce or suspend her sentence and allow her to return to her country.”
Preedaporn’s verdict will be delivered in court October 16.

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