Chinese man arrested as Cambodia seizes record ecstasy haul hidden in pet food boxes

Zao Zeye was charged with drug trafficking and faces up to life imprisonment if convicted, as police look into possible accomplices

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 3:08pm

Cambodian authorities seized nearly 100 kilograms of ecstasy hidden in pet food shipments from Germany, police said 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, 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 said, adding that one pill of the party drug sold for between US$20 and US$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 methamphetamine.

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.