Cambodia seizes record ecstasy haul hidden in pet food boxes

By AFP   August 12, 2018 | 11:26 pm PT
Cambodia seizes record ecstasy haul hidden in pet food boxes
Cambodia has arrested a Chinese national who attempted to smuggle in nearly 100 kilograms of MDMA pills in pet food shipments. Photo by AFP
Cambodian authorities have seized nearly 100 kilograms of ecstasy intended for distribution locally and in Vietnam.

Police announced the bust 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 from Germany, said National Anti-Drugs Authority deputy secretary-general Mok Chito.

In total 98 kilograms of MDMA pills -- better known as ecstasy -- were discovered in the shipment, which was intended for distribution locally and in Vietnam.

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

Yao 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 methampetamine.

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 through a suitcase.

The same month authorities in a separate case seized 120 kilograms 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.

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