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Q1 drug stats sky-high: gov’t

A group of men convicted of drug trafficking and possession are escorted to a prison van at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court
A group of men convicted of drug trafficking and possession are escorted to a prison van at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in February. Authorities have recorded nearly 600 drug-related cases resulting in arrests in the first quarter of 2015. Heng Chivoan

Q1 drug stats sky-high: gov’t

Arrests for drug-related crimes in the first three months of 2015 were more than double the amount during the same period last year, a new report by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) says.

A total of 1,254 people were arrested for drug crimes during the first quarter of 2015, a 127 per cent spike from 552 last year, the report says. The number of cases resulting in arrests this year was 597, a surge of 160 per cent from last year’s 227.

“We keep on urging our police and military police to combat crime and educate local residents about the consequences of using and trafficking drugs,” Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the NACD, said yesterday. “We have also found that some government officials were connected to trafficking cases, so it is hard for us to completely stop it.”

A large portion of the cases involved heroin and methamphetamine.

In addition to the quarterly data, the report says that authorities arrested 480 people in April. Suspects include 463 Cambodians, 10 Vietnamese, three English and four Laotians.

In January, the NACD reported a total of just 1,337 drug cases resulting in 3,142 arrests during the entirety of last year.

Since Cambodia is located near countries where illegal drugs are widely manufactured, and authorities are increasing their anti-drug operations, arrests for drug-related crimes are on the rise Vyrith said.

“I would say that our police are working very hard,” he explained. “This is why crackdowns are increasing from year to year.”

Additionally, this year some policy changes were made regarding the handling of evidence from drug crimes, he added. Previously, drug evidence was maintained until a judge issued a final verdict.

“Now, unless there are unique circumstances, we request that prosecutors destroy the drugs upon the completion of the hearing, so that they are eradicated sooner,” Vyrith said.

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