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Inmates Charged with Selling Drugs

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:

The provincial court in Tbong Khmum province has charged four inmates with selling drugs in Trapaing Phlong prison after police found a bottle of methamphetamine pills hidden in the prison farm.  
Provincial police were first alerted to the illicit drug trade within the prison by Trapaing Phlong’s authorities, said Chourn Phally, president of the judiciary department of the provincial gendarmerie. Police then conducted a search of the prison over a six-day period beginning February 13, during which they found the drugs and arrested the four inmates.
The four suspects are 55-year-old Ek Bunly, 45-year-old Bun Try, 33-year-old Keo Ren, and a 40-year-old Vietnamese national named Keo Chin.
Nut Savenea, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons, said that prison authorities already suspected these men of running a drug ring. He said that most of their dealing took place under the former president of the prison, Kea Sovanna, and ended when the new prison president imposed tighter restrictions within the prison.
“The drug dealing in the prison happened because the former president neglected the matter,” Mr. Savenea said.
Mr. Sovanna, however, denied turning a blind eye to the drug trade during his stint overseeing the prison. “It’s under somebody else’s control,” he said. But despite his denial, Neang Sovath – provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc – said that drug trafficking within the prison could only take place with the permission of the authorities.
“Usually, there is a strict control regarding visitors who want to visit or bring something to inmates in the prison,” Mr. Sovath said. “So drug dealing couldn’t happen unless officials in the prison allowed it to happen, in order to make money from the crime.”
Last year there were 16,570 drug users in the country, according to the Anti-Drug Authority. The most popular drug was crystal meth, which accounts for 79 percent of all drugs used in Cambodia, the agency said.

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