Nine Chinese men in custody were sentenced to life in prison for alleged crossed-border drug trafficking to Australia and New Zealand alongside more than 10 others in absentia.
Phnom Penh judge Nhim Pisal issued a verdict on Thursday sentencing the nine men to life and 80 million riel each in fines (about $20,000) based on drug and money laundering charges. Pisal also sentenced more than 10 others in absentia to life and 50 million riel in fines each.
He named the convicted men in custody as Liu Wei Cheng, Chen Zhiquan, Wang Lei, Sun Lian, Huang Rui Ming, Sun Hai Tao, Li Yi Nam, Wang Yue and Zhu Xiao Fei. Pisal added that they have the right to appeal.
On December 24, Cambodian police, in cooperation with Chinese police and the Chinese Embassy, raided two locations in Phnom Penh’s Borey Peng Huoth Boeng Snor in Chbar Ampov’s Niroth commune, and at a restaurant in Prampi Makara’s Boeng Prolit commune.
Chinese authorities simultaneously made arrests in China.
Cambodian authorities confiscated 347 kg of methamphetamine as well as two scales and other equipment used for packing the drugs into metal pipes, which they said were headed to Australia and New Zealand.
During their trial last week, the defendants denied knowing that their work — for which they were paid handsomely — was related to drugs.
One man said he had only been in Cambodia for 10 days at the time of his arrest, and was at the site only to work as a cleaner for $2,000-$2,500 a month.