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Up in smoke

Heng Chivoan

Authorities torch 200 kilograms of heroin in a ceremony at Olympic Stadium.

Authorities have torched hundreds of kilograms of narcotics during an anti-drug ceremony in Phnom Penh that followed last week's destruction of tons of safrole-rich oil, a key ingredient in the production of the party drug Ecstasy.

The June 23 drug-burn at Olympic Stadium destroyed 200 kilograms of heroin and precursor chemicals confiscated during the last 18 months, said Lour Ramin, secretary general for the National Authority for Combating Drugs.

“The burn reflects the commitment by authorities to combat drugs," he told reporters.

"It is also a message to drug producers, distributors and traffickers that the law will not forgive them,” he added.

During the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng urged authorities to ramp up their efforts to curb the drug trade. Cambodia is both a transit country for drug traffickers and, more recently, a producer of mainly methamphetamine-type stimulants.

Sar Kheng also warned that police officials caught dealing in drugs would be severely punished.

“There will be no excuse for any officials who use their positions to commit offences – if you are found, serious legal action will be taken against you,” he said.

The Olympic Stadium bonfire followed a similar destruction last week by Cambodian and Australian police officials of a massive stockpile of safrole-rich oil, which could have produced some 245 million Ecstasy tablets worth more than $7 billion.

Lars Pedersen of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said that the event was a reflection of Cambodia's willingness to tackle drug production and trafficking.

 

“I would like to congratulate the government’s success in reducing the cultivation and trafficking of cannabis, which has been declining steadily over many years, and the resolute dismantling of the clandestine methamphetamine lab in Kampong Speu last year,” Pedersen said, referring to the 2007 bust of Cambodia's first known drug factory.

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