Authorities Hunt for Weapons-Trafficking Ringleaders, Seven in Jail

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Border patrol officers find weapons in Battambang’s Kamrieng district in October 2021. (National Police)

Seven people have been charged and jailed over weapons trafficking in Cambodia’s western provinces, as authorities are now hunting for ringleaders they say they have already identified.

Some 50 grenades, 1,000 assault rifle bullets and explosives were seized early this month in a joint operation between Banteay Meanchey and Battambang military police.

So Dy, Battambang provincial military police’s judicial director, said on Monday that seven people had been arrested — four on May 1 and three on May 2 — with authorities now searching for ringleaders.

“They have been identified but they have not been arrested yet,” Dy said, adding that the seven arrested individuals were in pretrial detention.

Battambang provincial deputy prosecutor Duong Saran said the suspects had been charged with production or trafficking of weapons, explosives and ammunition under the Criminal Code. The charge carries potential prison sentences of five to 10 years.

Jeremy Douglas, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime’s regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said on Friday that arms trafficking to Myanmar had been on the rise regionally.

“Weapons trafficking in and around Battambang near the Thai border is not a surprise. There has been an uptick in demand for small arms and explosives in Myanmar with active trafficking towards the country from several directions, and still some shipments going to southern Thailand,” Douglas said.

According to a local report, authorities confiscated 1,000 AK-47 bullets, 50 grenades, two hand guns, fuses and explosives.

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