Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a motorbike taxi driver accused of trafficking more than 16 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin in the city last year.
Presiding Judge Khe Sokha, identified him as Meng Ratana, 42, from Battambang province and living in the capital’s Tuol Kork district’s Toek La’ak II commune.
He said that the accused was charged with drug possession and trafficking under article 40 of the Law on Control of Drugs and faces a life sentence if convicted.
Judge Sokha noted that Mr Ratana was arrested on July 1 last year by Ministry of Interior anti-drug police. After the arrest, police seized more than 16 kilograms of meth and heroin from him.
Captain Sok Oudom, the ministry’s 6th Anti-Drug Police Intervention Office deputy chief who led the team to arrest the accused, told the court that Mr Ratana was an active drug trafficker who transported the drugs from the Cambodian-Lao border in Stung Treng province for sale to users in Phnom Penh.
He said the accused had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, posing as a drug dealer, twice in June last year.
He said that on July 1 last year, the undercover officer ordered two kilograms of crystal meth worth $24,000 from the accused.
Cap Oudom said that at about 1.30pm, after they had agreed on the price of the drugs, Mr Ratna transported the drugs in his car to a meeting point at a quiet spot in Chamkar Mon district’s Tuol Tumpoung II commune.
He noted that police in plainclothes arrested the accused after he sold the drugs to the undercover officer.
“He was arrested while he was selling drugs to our undercover police officer,” Cap Oudom told the court. “After the arrest, police seized two big packages of crystal methamphetamine weighting two kilograms from him.”
“Police also inspected his car and seized six more big packages of crystal methamphetamine and two packages of heroin,” he added.
Cap Oudom noted police seized a total of 15,812.69 grams of meth and 701.74 grams of heroin, a phone and two cars from Mr Ratana.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Ratana admitted committing the offence, but claimed that he was only a middleman working for pay and not a drug trafficker.
He told the court that the drugs seized belonged to a Chinese national named “Sing” who is at large.
Mr Ratana said that he knew Mr Sing who had employed him as the manager of a Karaoke Entertainment in Chamkar Mon district in 1997.
The accused confessed that in 2017, he began distributing drugs for Mr Sing to clients in the city.
Mr Ratana told the court that each time, he took between two and three kilograms of crystal meth from Mr Sing for distribution to clients in the city.
He noted that Mr Sing paid him from $6,000 to $7,000 each time.
Mr Ratana told the court that on June 26 last year, Mr Sing gave him the drugs to hide at his rental house in Chamkar Mon district.
He noted that each time there was a sales order, he always carried all the drugs in his car instead of keeping them in the house.
Mr Ratana told the court that on the day of his arrest, Mr Sing had ordered him to bring the two kilograms of crystal meth to sell to a client in Tuol Tumpoung 2 commune.
“I admit that I only worked for pay and Mr Sing always paid me well,” Mr Ratana told the court. “But I am not a drug trafficker.”
A verdict is due October 17.