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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Cambodia seizes record ecstasy haul hidden in pet food boxes

The raid came after authorities charged a Chinese national in connection with the haul

Phnom Penh at dusk - Cambodian authorities have taken a hard line on drug trafficking in response to smugglers using the country as a transit point. AFP
Phnom Penh at dusk - Cambodian authorities have taken a hard line on drug trafficking in response to smugglers using the country as a transit point. AFP

Cambodian authorities seized up to 100 kilograms of ecstasy hidden in pet food shipments from Germany, police said on Monday, after charging a Chinese national in connection with the record haul.

The suspect, identified as Yao Zeye, was arrested on August 7 after coming to the Phnom Penh central post office to pick up the boxes, said Mok Chito, National Anti-Drugs Authority deputy secretary-general.

In total 98 kilograms of MDMA pills – ecstasy – were discovered. The shipment was intended for distribution locally and in Vietnam.

"This is the biggest bust of ecstasy [in Cambodia]," Mr Chito told AFP, adding that one pill of the party drug sold for between $20 (Dh74) and $80 (Dh294) and the haul was worth "millions" of dollars.

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Mr Zeye was charged over the weekend with drug trafficking and faces up to life imprisonment if convicted, as police look into possible accomplices.

Cambodia has taken a hard line on drugs in recent years in response to smugglers turning to the country as a transit point, particularly for heroin and methamphetamine.

Heavy sentences are passed down for drug trafficking, with hundreds arrested — including senior officials and foreigners.

In June, a court jailed a Belgian man for life after he was found guilty of smuggling a kilogram of cocaine into the kingdom in a suitcase.

The same month, authorities seized 120 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine smuggled in from Laos.

The kingdom has also cracked down on safrole oil, an ingredient in cosmetics that can be used as a precursor in making ecstasy.

The oil is derived from the rare M'rea Prov Phnom tree in Cambodia's protected forests and production of it was banned in 2007.