The fourth arrest of Taiwanese nationals allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin through Phnom Penh International Airport this year has alerted officials to a potential ring operating in the country, authorities said Monday. Secretary to the airport’s customs authority, Sok Yetha, said officials believed an organized ring may be operating through the airport, taking advantage of the relatively cheap price of heroin in the region compared to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
He said the suspicions followed the Saturday arrest of accused drug smugglers Huang Yucheng, 34, and her brother Ly Yucheng, 31, as the two attempted to board a flight to China’s Guangzhou province.
“The woman was walking strangely, and when we checked her shoes, we found 1.2 kilos of heroin hidden in them. We then checked the brother and found another 900 grams,” Yetha said by telephone.
Cambodian customs has arrested five heroin smugglers at the airport this year, allegedly carrying more than 12 kilos of the drug between them. Four of them were Taiwanese nationals.
Officials say most have been caught during the celebration of national holidays in either Cambodia or China when the customs presence is lighter.
“These people are not the main ones. They receive a fee if they complete the trip, but there are bigger people supplying them,” Yetha said.
If convicted, the Taiwanese siblings face between 10 and 20 years in prison.