Five Laotian nationals were arrested late on Monday afternoon as they prepared to smuggle 24,000 methamphetamine tablets with a street value of nearly $100,000 into Cambodia, according to Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
The bust, which took place in the Lao province of Champasak, which borders Stung Treng, was the result of a joint operation between the two countries’ police forces.
The arrests followed Stung Treng police passing intelligence on to their Lao colleagues, said Vyrith.
That followed an unsuccessful attempt by Cambodian police to lure the suspects across the border with a dummy drug deal, according to a senior officer within the Stung Treng police’s anti-narcotics department who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While offering no further details of the operation, the officer added that one of the suspects had been on Cambodian authorities’ radar for years.
At present, police do not know if those arrested were acting alone or as part of a larger group.
Monday’s arrests came the same day that NACD president Ke Kim Yan had specifically called for a crackdown on cross-border smuggling, naming Stung Treng province in particular.
A UN Office on Drugs and Crime report released last year said methamphetamine has been the primary drug of choice among users in Laos and Cambodia as far back as 2005.
The NACD’s Vyrith said the Cambodian drugs market is estimated to consume 80kg of methamphetamine a year.