Phnom Penh Municipal Court tried three men on Friday for their alleged involvement in trafficking nearly one kilogram of methamphetamine along the Cambodian-Thai border last year.
Presiding Judge Heng Sokna identified the men as Chhuon Vanda, 49, a Siem Reap prison inmate, Chhuon Samnang, 41, brother of Mr Vanda, and Pha Neth, 41.
Judge Sokna said they were arrested by anti-drug police in May last year, when police seized nearly one kilogram of ice, and were charged with drug trafficking
Major General San Suthy, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Polcie Department, said Mr Neth and Mr Samnang were arrested on the morning of May 8 at about 10.30am while they sold drugs to an undercover police officer in Daun Penh district.
“It was under the order of inmate Chhuon Vanda,” Maj Gen Suthy said. “We confiscated a total of 975.12 grams of methamphetamine, one motorbike and four mobile phones.”
“The accused were apprehended by police last year,” he added. “The arrest occurred during a sting operation to lead Mr Samnang to our undercover police officer.”
After the pair’s arrest, further investigation by police led to the arrest of Mr Vanda at the Siem Reap provincial jail, where he was being held pending trial on separate drug charges.
Authorities did not find any drugs in his cell, but were able to confiscate a cell phone allegedly used to contact his network of drug dealers.
Maj Gen Suthy said Mr Vanda was originally arrested on September 21, 2016, for transporting 18.44 grams of methamphetamine in Banteay Meanchey province.
“During his stay in prison, Mr Vanda continued his drug trafficking business,” Maj Gen Suthy said. “He managed to get his hands on a cellphone and contacted his network outside of prison grounds.”
During the trial on Friday, Mr Vanda and Mr Neth admitted their guilt, confessing that they were the owners of the drugs seized by police and then asking the court to reduce their sentences.
They said the drugs were bought from an unidentified Thai national along the Cambodian-Thai border for around $13,000, and added that they planned to sell the drugs for about $16,000.
“I have already confessed about my crimes,” said Mr Vanda. “I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence.” Mr Samnang denied the allegations.
He claimed that he did not know his older brother and Mr Neth were involved in drug trafficking,
“I am an innocent person. I would like to ask the court to drop the charge and release me,” he said. A verdict is due April 12.