Chinese men jailed in Cambodia for major drug haul

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - A Cambodian court sentenced two Chinese nationals and a local man to life in prison on Tuesday (Sept 20) for trafficking 55kg of methamphetamine and heroin, one of the country's biggest drug seizures.

The two Chinese men - Ly Yong, 43, and Deng Yuan Ping, 53 - were arrested in June last year alongside a Cambodian couple after a police raid uncovered the drugs worth an estimated US$3 million (S$4.1 million).

The heroin and meth were smuggled from the Golden Triangle - the region along the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos which remains a major global drug production hub.

They were destined for the market both in Cambodia and abroad, police said.

Judge Pech Vicheathor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court found the two Chinese and the local man guilty both of producing and trafficking drugs.

The trio were also fined a total of 180 million riel (S$61,342).

The Cambodian man's girlfriend was also jailed for five years and fined six million riel for her involvement.

Another Cambodian man, who remains at large, was sentenced to life imprisonment in his absence.

Cambodia has become a popular smuggling route for narcotics, particularly methamphetamine and heroin, since neighbouring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in the early 2000s.

Cambodia has intensified its war on drugs in recent years and there have been hundreds of arrests, some involving senior officials.

Last year police uncovered nearly 1.5 tonnes of marijuana worth more than US$7 million packed into coffee bags.