Three Men Provisionally Charged for Weapons Trafficking, Smuggling

Three men, including a Cambodian Mine Action Center employee, were provisionally charged on Tuesday with arms trafficking, days after they were arrested for alleged involvement in smuggling weapons to Thailand, a court official said.

The three—identified by police as Op Vireak, 48, the demining organization staffer; Chin Lin, 36; and Yim Savy, 38—were provisionally charged with trafficking weapons and explosives, Sok Keo Bandith, Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy prosecutor, said on Tuesday.

They were arrested in three districts in Battambang province on Friday and transferred to Banteay Meanchey province for questioning, Sith Los, deputy chief of the provincial police, said on Monday. The smuggled weapons allegedly entered Thailand through Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district.

A conviction for trafficking of weapons, explosives and ammunitions carries a punishment of five to 10 years in prison.

Last week, six Thai suspects were arrested in Thailand in connection to the alleged weapons trafficking, including five detained in Sa Kaeo province, which borders Banteay Meanchey.

The five were arrested last Tuesday while transporting three 82 mm grenades, two 82 mm grenade launchers, one 81 mm launcher and three ignition devices, and later charged with illegal weapons possession, according to a Thai police spokesman and the Bangkok Post.

A sixth Thai national, identified as the intended buyer of the smuggled weapons, was arrested in Thailand’s northern Mae Hong Son province on Friday. Mr. Vireak told authorities he had stockpiled 20 AK-47 assault rifles and three 82 mm grenades—which were found in an underground weapons cache in 2008—at his Battambang City home, Brig. Gen. Los said earlier this week.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the government demining organization, said in a message on Tuesday that Mr. Vireak, whom he identified on Monday as Ap Lengcheu, had been suspended from his job.

Mr. Ratana declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco)

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