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The woman who trafficked in children

Sang in Prey Sar

The woman who trafficked in children

Sang is in prison now and will be for many years. This is how she got there.

When Michael Pepe, chief suspect in the Berman murders, moved to Cambodia, Sang Chi Chhouern aka “Sang” or “Basang” helped him procure the children who became his sex slaves.

Sang, who is of Vietnamese descent, worked as a prostitute and frequented a bar called Sharky’s in Phnom Penh, which was popular among foreigners. Pepe became a regular customer of Sang’s, and she also worked as his interpreter.

After Pepe moved into an upscale villa, Sang posed as his wife, replete with faux wedding portraits. Most afternoons she made Vietnamese coffee, a potent brew with sweetened condensed milk and served over ice. Pepe and Sang would sit outside on an elevated balcony, facing the street, chatting in the manner of a well-to-do American expat and his attractive younger spouse.

For neighbors and passersby, the façade presented by Pepe and Sang helped disguise the horrors of what took place behind the villa’s high walls.

Sang made the rounds of Phnom Penh’s slums, where families lived in squalor and desperation. She negotiated deals to purchase the services of girls as young as nine years old, then shuttled the children to Pepe’s villa on the back of her motorbike.

Once inside the villa, the girls were bound, raped, and tortured by Pepe. Sang was an accessory to these crimes – she trained the girls in how to service Pepe and threatened them if they resisted or tried to escape.

Sang was sentenced to 27 years for her role in the trafficking. On appeal, after she admitted fault and said, “I have learned my lesson,” her term was reduced to 20 years.

Sang is 46 now and serving time in Prey Sar, a hellish prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Here’s the local coverage of Sang’s appeal: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/pedo%E2%80%99s-accomplice-says-she%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98learned-lesson%E2%80%99

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