Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a Vietnamese-Australian woman who allegedly tried to smuggle nearly two kilograms of heroin from Cambodia to Australia at Phnom Penh International Airport last year.
Presiding Judge Khun Sokna identified the accused as Tran Ve Thi, 39, a tourist. She was charged with drug possession and transportation and faces life in prison if convicted.
Judge Sokna noted that Ms Tran was arrested on January 6 last year at Phnom Penh International Airport. After her arrest, police seized nearly two kilograms of heroin from her.
Lieutenant Colonel Hun Sothy, the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Transnational Crimes Department’s deputy chief, yesterday told the court that the accused worked for an international drug trafficker and had previously transported drugs from Cambodia for sale in Australian casinos in 2017.
He said that on January 5 last year, Australian police informed Cambodian police of her activities and requested she be arrested.
Lt Col Sothy noted that at about 8.30am on January 6, Ms Tran left the Diamond Palace Hotel in Chamkar Mon district, carrying a red suitcase, and travelled by tuk-tuk to Phnom Penh International Airport.
He said that Interior Ministry police, who were keeping tabs on her, trailed her from the hotel to a check-in counter at the airport.
Lt Col Sothy said that when she was checking in, police and a municipal court prosecutor X-rayed her suitcase.
“She was arrested red-handed at Phnom Penh International Airport after police inspected her suitcase and found the drugs hidden inside it,” he said. “We found and seized 1,755.50 grams of heroin wrapped in plastic and hidden at the bottom of her suitcase.”
Lt Col Sothy told the court that police are looking for other suspects in connection with the case.
During yesterday’s trial, Ms Tran admitted committing the offence.
She told the court that before her arrest, she was paid $10,000 by a Vietnamese-Australian man in Australia to go to Cambodia, collect drugs from a friend of his and transport it back to Australia.
Ms Tran said she arrived in Cambodia on January 4 last year. She said the unidentified Vietnamese-Australian arranged and paid all expenses for the trip.
Ms Tran told the court that at about 10.30pm on January 5, she traveled by tuk-tuk and received the suitcase containing the drugs from two unidentified Vietnamese men at a garden in front of a hotel in Chamkar Mon district.
“I admit that it was the second time I was hired and paid $10,000 to transport drugs from Cambodia to Australia,” she said. “But I am not a drug trafficker and only did the job because I owed the Vietnamese-Australian man a lot of money.”
Ms Tran then requested a lenient sentence. A verdict is due April 25.