Officials from the National Authority for Combating Drugs said yesterday that the 1,000 litres of known methamphetamine precursor chemicals seized at a former pig farm in Kampong Speu were not being used to make drugs, seemingly stepping back from initial statements regarding the bust.
Last week, police seized huge quantities of sodium bicarbonate, phenylacetic acid, hydrochloric acid and six other unidentified chemicals, as well as drying racks and balloon flasks often used in drug production.
An unknown quantity is still thought to be buried at the farm, which is owned by tycoon Sok Rathan.
Deputy provincial military police commander Chan Da at the time of the seizure, said that police already knew the identities of the two men, one Colombian and one Taiwanese, who were renting the building.
When asked about the men yesterday, however, Da refused to comment, and Deputy Secretary-General of the National Authority for Combating Drugs Meas Vyrith said that the materials were left by “unknown people”, who were using the chemicals industrially.
When asked about the specialised equipment and the two foreign nationals, Vyrith also declined to comment.
“The villagers should not get into the area, and do not use the water from the ground from now until next year, in case the chemical substance was absorbed into the water,” said Meas Vyrith, who added that villagers shouldn’t go within 500 metres of the building, citing chemical contamination.
Villagers have already reported irritation of the skin, facial swelling and headaches that they claimed were caused by the chemicals.
Olivier Lermet, country manager for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said that the chemicals and equipment could be used to manufacture methamphetamines, but also had industrial purposes.
Villagers reported that the renters had told them that the foul-smelling chemicals were used for pig farming, but an official at the Groupe Agriculturel Français de Developpement who declined to be named said those chemicals were not commonly used to raise pigs.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]