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UN holds drug training course

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Workshops have provided local officials with new drug know-how to help prevent smuggling.

Photo by:
Tracey Shelton

A drug user in Phnom Penh takes metamphetamine out of a plastic bag.

OFFICIALS at six border hubs attended a training course on Monday run by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the government to learn  techniques for recognising the ingredients used to make illegal drugs.

The workshop, the UNODC said, aimed to prevent the smuggling of precursor chemicals into Cambodia such as those discovered in the high-profile raid on an illicit drug lab in Kampong Speu in 2007.

"The synthetic chemical substance found in Kampong Speu province had been imported into Cambodia, which is a serious problem that requires strict control at the border checkpoints," said Lars Pedersen, of  the UNODC Project Office Cambodia.

"We must do whatever we can"

Chhim Sithibunarith, a scientist working for the government's National Authority for Combating Drugs, said: "We must do whatever we can to get all officials at the main border checkpoints to recognise these drugs, and train [them] to test materials they don't recognise".

In the first nine months of 2008, authorities tracked 163 drug cases, leading to the arrest of 317 individuals, she said.

The threat of illegal drug production in Cambodia spiked in 2007 following the discovery of large-scale illicit drug laboratories in Kampong Speu and Phnom Penh's Dangkor district.

The scale of the labs - including six tonnes of precursor chemicals and processing equipment - suggested drug production was taking hold in the Kingdom.

Previously, Cambodia - situated below the infamous drug-producing Golden Triangle  countries of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos - was regarded only as a transit point. 

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