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Police load a truck with seized safrole oil, a precursor used to produce MDMA, during a raid in Phnom Penh in 2012. Photo supplied

Drug officials meet in Bangkok

High-ranking officials from Cambodia’s Interior Ministry were among 140 delegates from Asia-Pacific nations meeting in Bangkok yesterday, as a three-day conference on the region’s growing problem of drug production and trafficking got under way.

Coordinated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the summit will see participants discuss the growing local markets for synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy, and the ongoing problem posed by heroin, as well as the need to combat the production and distribution of precursor chemicals essential to the production of synthetic drugs.

According to UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas, drugs represent more than a third of the region’s transnational organised crime economy, estimated to be worth $100 billion annually.

“Without integrated law enforcement and border management strategies organized crime groups will continue to expand the drug business in the Asia-Pacific region without respect for the sovereignty of states,” Douglas said in a statement.

Cambodia’s two-man delegation at the talks is led by Lay Kimly, deputy-secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).

Speaking yesterday, NACD head Meas Vyrith said regional conferences such as this are essential to Cambodia’s efforts to combat illegal drugs.

“We will have more cooperation among countries, especially with those countries that share a border with us: Vietnam, Laos and Thailand,” he said.

According UNODC official Tun Nay Soe, Cambodia is not a significant producer of drugs or precursor chemicals compared to other nations, but is a key transshipment point.

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