Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a man to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of trafficking 16 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin in the capital last year.
Presiding Judge Le Sokha identified the man as Meng Ratana, a 42-year-old motorbike taxi driver who lived in Tuol Kork district’s Toek La’ak II commune.
Judge Sokha said Mr Ratana was found guilty of drug possession and trafficking after he was arrested by the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug police department in July last year.
He noted that 16 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin were confiscated from Mr Ratana.
“Based on the hearing and the evidence seized by police, and also the confession of the accused, the judge’s council has found the accused guilty,” he said. “Therefore, the court has decided to convict and sentence Meng Ratana to 25 years in prison.”
Lieutenant Colonel Sok Oudom, the officer who led an operation leading to Mr Ratana’s arrest, during a hearing on October 2 said Mr Ratana was a drug trafficker who transported drugs from the Cambodia-Lao border in Stung Treng province.
Lt Col Oudom said police knew Mr Ratana was a drug trafficker after an undercover officer purchased 20 grams of methamphetamine for $2,000.
Police then planned a sting operation, contacted Mr Ratana and ordered two kilograms of methamphetamine for $24,000.
Lt Col Oudom said that on July 1 last year, Mr Ratana drove one of his cars to make the sale. A getaway car was parked elsewhere.
He made the sale to the undercover police officer before he was arrested.
“He was caught red-handed as he was selling the drugs to our undercover police officer,” Lt Col Oudom said. “After the arrest, police seized two packages of methamphetamine weighing two kilograms.”
“After he was arrested, police inspected the car Mr Ratana arrived in and seized six packages of methamphetamine and two packages of heroin,” Lt Col Oudom added.
Mr Ratana declined to comment at the courthouse yesterday, but during his hearing on October 2 said he was a middle-man who worked for a salary.
Mr Ratana said the drugs belonged to a Chinese national named Sing who is still at large. He said he met Mr Sing when he worked at a karaoke bar in Chamkar Mon district in 1997.
He said since 2017, he ran drugs for Mr Sing four times before he was arrested. He said he was paid up to $7,000 each time.
Mr Ratana said that before he was arrested, Mr Sing told him to bring two kilograms of methamphetamine to the undercover police officer.
Mr Ratana said after he was arrested, he was told by police to contact Mr Sing, but Mr Sing had already fled.
“I acknowledge that I only worked for the pay from Mr Sing because it was good money,” he said. “But I am not a drug dealer. The drugs did not belong to me. They belonged to Mr Sing, who is still at large.”