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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hazy drug report clarified

Hazy drug report clarified

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Police seize drums of safrole oil, which is used to produce the drug ecstasy, during a raid in Phnom Penh in May. Photo Supplied

A new nine-month report compiled by the National Auth-ority for Combating Drugs answers questions raised by a similar report released in September that contained staggeringly low figures, according to a copy obtained by the Post yesterday.

Confusion reigned three months ago when the NACD announced its tally of year-to-date seizures. The numbers did not seem to add up against those reported by other anti-drugs departments or touted in a number of well-publicised busts.

For example, according to the old report, authorities in Cambodia had seized only 2.8 kilograms of safrole oil, a precursor chemical used in the production of ecstasy, since January this year.

But in August, police seized more than four tonnes of saf-role in Pursat province, on top of 3,000 litres of safrole oil taken in a series of busts back in May.

At the time, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the report could have been incomplete. Contac-ted yesterday, NACD deputy secretary-general Meas Virith said the earlier figures were premature and the report had been “unofficial”.

According to the updated version, there were significant drops in seizures of heroin and ecstasy, but there was a jaw-dropping 550 per cent increase in seizures of safrole oil.

The report also noted a roughly 73 per cent drop in seizures of tablet-form methamphetamines, which was similar to the figure in September. Virith said the dip had to do with shifting trends among users.

“Some types of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamines, decreased because of the changing in behaviour of drug users, meaning they stopped smoking and started injecting [heroin],” he said.

Tablet-form methamphetamines, powdered methamphetamine and heroin, the report said, entered Cambodia by flowing from neighbouring Laos down into the provinces of Strung Treng, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakkiri.

However, Virith said drug traffickers were also continuing to target Cambodia as a transit point for cocaine because it had not caught on among local drug users.

“We found that for cocaine, there is no market in Cambodia,” he said.

Along with the drug busts there were, of course, arrests.

The report noted that at least 1,264 people had been arrested in connection with drug trafficking.



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