|The Phnom Penh Post
|Former Cambodian Drug Czar Moek Dara being dragged away to prison by police. (How long until we see Gil Kerlikowske in a similar predicament?)
Who’s gonna watch the watchers? A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced the former director of the country’s anti-drug agency to life in prison for corruption and narcotics trafficking, according to a court official. The drug czar’s top aide was also given life in prison for good measure.
Moek Dara, who headed the National Authority for Combating Drugs, and his subordinate Chea Leng were found guilty of 32 counts of involvement in drug trafficking, prosecutor Phan Vanarath told AFP, reports Times Live.
Both were also convicted of accepting bribes from drug dealers by the court, located in the northwestern part of Cambodia in the province of Banteay Meanchey. The court is about 190 miles northwest of the nation’s capitol, Phnom Penh.
A third former official at the drug agency, Morn Deurn, who is on the lam, was given 25 years in prison in absentia, the prosecutor said. (If you’re gonna pull a prison sentence, the best possible kind is that “in absentia” kind.)
|The Phnom Penh Post
|Convicted drug czar Moek Dara served as a trusted source for U.S. Embassy officials in Phnom Penh, according to an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks
Moek Dara served as a “trusted source” for U.S. Embassy officials in Phnom Penh, according to an American diplomatic cable
released by WikiLeaks, reports James O’Toole of The Phnom Penh Post
. This, of course, raises questions about the quality of intelligence available to diplomats and government organizations.
“The verdict is a key message to corrupt people,” Phan Vanarath said.
His name would work great in an H.P. Lovecraft novel, don’t you think? “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Phan Vanarath waits dreaming…” Oh! Anyway. Back in Cambodia.
The court also ordered Moek Dara to pay a hefty fine of more than $220,000 (hope he saved up those bribes!) and Chea Leng was ordered to pay $20,000. Properties were confiscated from all three defendants.
Before accepting his post as drug czar, Moek Dara was a senior member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and served in the Ministry of the Interior for reveal years, reports Sopheng Cheang of the Associated Press
Cambodia has increased the intensity of its War On Drugs in recent months, resulting in hundreds arrests, some involving former or current government officials.
Two high-ranking Cambodian Army generals were busted late last year for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine.
Cambodia became a smuggling route for drugs, particularly heroin and meth, after next-door-neighbor Thailand toughened its stance on illicit substances in 2002.