Masked gunmen set Taiwanese drug trafficker free in raid at dental clinic

Chen Hsin Han was serving a 52-year-sentence. Authorities allowed him to travel outside prison walls for treatment.
By RFA Khmer
Masked gunmen set Taiwanese drug trafficker free in raid at dental clinic An armed man wearing a mask and holding what appears to be a pistol with a silencer takes part in the raid on Aug. 17, 2023, on a dental clinic in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to free Chen Hsin Han, who was in prison for drug trafficking.
Credit: Fresh News screenshot from video

Updated at 1:14 p.m. ET on Aug. 18, 2023

Five men wearing ski masks freed a Taiwanese drug lord after they charged into a dental clinic, pointed guns fitted with silencers at guards and then fled with the prisoner in a Lexus, authorities said Thursday.

Police in Siem Reap – home to the famous Angkor temples – were working to re-arrest Chen Hsin Han. On Thursday evening, police said they arrested six suspects involved in the operation. 

The group apparently abandoned the Lexus, which was found several hours later with guns, masks, clothes and other materials left inside, Prison Department spokesman Nuth Savna said.

“The reason the suspects could free the prisoner was because they pointed guns at the guards,” he said. “If we fought they would shoot us.”

The gunmen tied up the four prison guards who had accompanied Chen to the clinic, according to the Khmer Times.

Chen, 45, was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 52 years for drug trafficking. Court records from a case in Taiwan show that he is a Taiwanese national. Before the escape, he was being held at Siem Reap Prison near the provincial capital. 

Chinese criminal groups run much of Cambodia’s human and drug trafficking, according to the Global Organized Crime Index report released in 2021.

“Many Chinese organized crime groups use Phnom Penh as a safe haven and invest heavily in legitimate businesses in the country,” the report said. “These international groups are usually connected with and protected by the ruling elite in Cambodia.”

Chen Hsin Han, who was in prison for drug trafficking in Cambodia, is seen in custody in this undated photo. Credit: Fresh News

Soeng Sen Karuna, spokesman for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association NGO, asked why the prisoner was allowed to get treatment outside the prison. 

“The prison knew the prisoner was convicted to more than 50 years in jail. They should have been more careful,” he said. “There should be an investigation to find out whether there was collusion or not over the case.” 

Prison officials will try to determine if there are any additional suspects, Nuth Savna said.

Siem Reap provincial police chief Teng Channath told RFA on Friday that police are continuing to search for Chen. 

Translated by Yun Samean. Edited by Matt Reed.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Chen is from mainland China, not Taiwan.


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Sammy Inn
Aug 17, 2023 06:28 PM

Ha Ha! How CHINESE drug trafficking can do what they want. The mask men had long rifle. Prison guards had short handgun. What do you do Mr. Hun Sen?