Cambodia sentences French teenager to 25 years in prison for role in heroin-smuggling plot

19-year-old receives hefty term and US$12,500 fine along with Australian woman and three Nigerians

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 5:31pm


A French teenager, an Australian woman and three Nigerians were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms on Wednesday for trying to smuggle heroin out of Cambodia.

Charlene Savarino, 19, and Ann Yoshe Taylor, 41, were arrested in September at the Phnom Penh International Airport after police found 2.2kg of heroin in Taylor’s luggage.

The women were due to fly to Australia together. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court said that Savarino had been asked by her boyfriend to smuggle the heroin to Australia.

Savarino was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Taylor to 23 years. Both women were ordered to pay US$12,500 fines.

The court also sentenced Savarino’s boyfriend, Precious Chneme Nwoko, 23, of Nigeria, to 27 years in prison. He was arrested at his rented apartment in Phnom Penh and was believed to have masterminded the trafficking attempt.

The court convicted in absentia two other Nigerians, who fled after the trio were arrested, and sentenced them to 27-year terms.

During their trial in April, the two women denied any involvement in drug trafficking and said the luggage belonged to one of the Nigerians who fled.

Cambodia is not a major producer of illegal drugs but has increasingly become a smuggling transit route.