African organised-crime groups are setting up shop in Cambodia as a centre for trafficking methamphetamines in Southeast Asia, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime has said.
In its 2011 report on patterns and trends of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), released on Wednesday, UNODC notes the rapid rise of production and use in Southeast Asia.
It says African gangs have “diversified” into ATS trafficking and use Cambodia as a centre for financial transactions and the distribution of drugs to other parts of Southeast Asia.
Cambodia has long been a transit country for drug trafficking and, as UNODC notes, “transit countries for illicit drugs often rapidly develop illicit drug use and manufacture problems”.
Methamphetamine pills are the primary drugs used in Cambodia, and use of crystal methamphetamine is expanding. It has been the most commonly used drug in Phnom Penh since 2009.
Despite UNODC’s findings, data from the National Police and National Authority for Combating Drugs shows methamphetamine-related arrests have declined annually since 2006.
Pill seizures alone fell by 40 per cent in 2010 from 2009 to 82,746. Figures had been as high as 420,000 in previous years.
UNODC noted that in the first six months of 2011, 296,351 methamphetamine pills were seized here, the highest number since 2007. The report said this may indicate a rise in trafficking from Myanmar or the expansion of domestic manufacturing.
UNODC said most of the methamphetamine seized in Cambodia originated in Myanmar and was trafficked into the Kingdom through its northeastern borders by land and river routes.
Major General Khieu Samorn, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s National Authority for Combating Drugs, said: “We cracked down on over 815 cases between November 11, 2010 and November 14, 2011 and arrested about 1,900 perpetrators.”