Police officials in Pursat province are continuing to search for suspects after a week-long investigation in late November led to the seizure of nearly 2,500 kilograms of safrole-rich oil, which is used in the production of MDMA.
Military police in the province’s Veal Veng district said they received a tip from an unnamed business that the oil was being stored at a building in a local forest. Between November 20 and 27, police and forestry officials led an investigation and eventually seized 64 30-litre cans of the oil and five cooking pots.
“We saw no one at the scene and our force demolished the shelter in the forest,” said Put Bunchoeun, a military police commander in Veal Veng district. “[The building] was a storage place, not a producing place.”
Peoy Somanak, a conservationist with the Forestry Administration, said that due to the building’s location, not all of the safrole-producing equipment could be seized by the authorities.
“[The building] is deep in the forest,” he said. “We didn’t have the ability to get everything out, so we decided to destroy [some equipment] on the spot.”
Safrole-rich oil is distilled from the roots of trees belonging to the sassafras family, known in Khmer as m’reah prov phnom.
While safrole-rich oil has legitimate uses in the fragrance and insecticide industries, it’s also used in the production of MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy.
Sin Phalla, the forestry administrative officer in Pursat provincial hall, said he was in the process of making a report of illegal safrole oil operations for the province’s court.