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Three tried with trafficking nearly 100 grams of meth

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The accused arrive at court yesterday. KT/Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried two men and a woman who allegedly sold nearly 100 grams of crystal meth to an undercover police officer in the capital last year.

Presiding Judge Seng Saroeun identified them as Nim Sothea 35, and his wife Chak Saroeun, 33, both unemployed and Sok Keang, 25, a motorbike taxi driver.

He said all three are charged with drug trafficking and face up to 10 years in jail if convicted. The accused are now in prison pending trial.

Judge Saroeun said Mr Sothea and Ms Saroeun were arrested at about 8pm on September 12 last year after selling a big package of drugs to the undercover officer at a Tela Gasoline Station in Tuol Kork district.

“They were arrested red handed after they brought a big package of drugs and sold it to the undercover officer at the gasoline station,” he said. “After their arrests, police seized 52. 97 grams of crystal methamphetamine, two phones and a motorbike from them.”

Judge Saroeun said that based on the couple’s confessions police prepared a plot to arrest an unidentified woman who had sold the drugs to them.

He said police ordered Mr Sothea and Ms Saroeun to contact the woman to buy more drugs.

Judge Saroeun said that at about 11.30am on September 13, the unidentified woman hired Mr Keang to deliver a big package of drugs to them at a Caltex Gasoline Station in Daun Penh district.

He said police in plainclothes arrested Mr Keang and seized 49.96 grams of crystal methamphetamine, two phones and a motorbike from him.

At yesterday’s trial, Mr Sothea and Ms Saroeun admitted committing the offence, saying that they were drug distributors and users.

They requested the court to reduce their sentences and promised not to repeat the offence after they are freed from prison.

Ms Saroeun told the court that she bought the drugs from an unidentified woman living in Tuol Kork district.

She said she paid $700 to the woman and later agreed to sell the drugs for $1,200 to the undercover officer who had ordered it through the phone.

“I know this business is illegal and against the law,” Ms Saroeun said. “But we are poor and it was an easy way to make money to support my family.”

She noted that before her arrest, she had bought drugs from the unidentified woman on at least 15 occasions and paid $700 for about 50 grams each time.

Ms Saroeun said that she then subdivided the drugs and put them into up to 200 smaller packages which she sold to users in Tuol Kork district.

She added that she could earn between $300 and $500 per package.

Mr Sothea yesterday told the court that he assisted his wife to sell the drugs and did so for at least six months before his arrest.

“I promise that I will not commit this crime again and will correct myself to be a good person in the future,” he said. “I would like to request the court to give me a light sentence.”

Mr Keang told the court that an unidentified woman, who is still at large, hired him to deliver the package and he did not know there were drugs inside.

He said that on the day of his arrest the woman, who used to be a regular passenger, paid him $5 to deliver a black package to a friend who was waiting at the Caltex Gasoline Station in Srah Chak commune.

He noted that he was arrested by police after he gave the black package to an unknown man [Mr Sothea] at the station.

“I would like to deny the allegations against me because I did not commit the crime I am accused of,” he said. “I admit that I am a drug user, but I am not a trafficker, so please drop the charge and release me.”

A verdict is due on December 20.

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