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Cambodia's drug statistics disputed


A police officer seizes materials used in the production of narcotics during a july raid in Kampong Speu province. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The National Authority for Combating Drugs yesterday announced its year-to-date tallies for drug seizures in Cambodia, tallies that included some glaring discrepancies when compared to prior reports of seizures, and even to the tallies of other anti-drug departments.

According to the report, released at a meeting between government officials regarding the adoption of a five-year anti-drug plan, police saw an uptick in the seizures of crystal methamphetamine of more than 10 per cent, but recorded a 75 per cent drop in seizures of tablet-form methamphetamines.

The report also noted significant drops in the seizures of heroin, marijuana and ecstasy.

“We have had fruitful results in combating drugs, and our mechanisms of combating drugs have remained operating nationwide,” said NACD Chairman Ke Kim Yan.

However, according to both police reports of individual drug busts and statistics provided by the anti-drug unit of the Ministry of Interior, the NACD’s nationwide report includes some staggering omissions.

For example, according to the report, authorities in Cambodia had seized only 2.8 kilograms of the ecstasy precursor chemical safrole oil since January. But last month, police seized more than 4,000 kilograms of safrole in Pursat province, on top of 3,000 litres of safrole oil seized in a series of busts in May.

Major General Khieuv Samorn, director of the anti-drug unit, who did not participate in yesterday’s meeting, said that his figures for safrole seizures were even higher.

“In the nine-month report at my department from the 24 municipalities and provinces, we seized 60 kilograms of overall illegal drugs and eight tonnes of safrole oil, and seized 49 tonnes chemical substances that only used for illegal drug production,” Samorn said.

The NACD report also mentioned that authorities had confiscated only some 47,000 tablets of the amphetamine-type stimulant yama. However, last month, anti-drug police reported that in one bust alone—that of former two-star general Chan Rithydy—police netted more than 85,000 tablets.

“I think the report may be incomplete,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak.

To contact the reporters on this story: Vong Sokheng at
Stuart White at



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