Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia a ‘hub for drugs’



Cambodia a ‘hub for drugs’

Tracing Cambodia's crime routes.
Tracing Cambodia's crime routes.

Cambodia a ‘hub for drugs’

A report released yesterday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) identifies Cambodia as a transportation hub of growing importance for heroin and methamphetamine as well as precursor chemicals used in their manufacture.

The report examines the rapid growth of transnational crime across the ASEAN region. It found that as regional integration has increased and economies have expanded, so too have organised crime networks.

The UNODC estimates transnational crime across Southeast Asia and China to be worth at least $100 billion annually.

Jeremy Douglas, UNODC’s regional representative, yesterday said the Kingdom’s developing role in the regional drugs trade was partly because of geography.

“Cambodia is very well placed between two middle-income countries that are doing very well, Thailand and Vietnam,” said Douglas, with illicit timber, human beings and drugs – particularly methamphetamine – being trafficked from and through the Kingdom to its wealthier neighbours.

“For years, we’ve been pointing out to countries that meth is rising,” he said. “We see that it will continue to rise because you have a large youth culture and increased purchasing power.”

While Cambodia does not have the purchasing power of some of its middle-income neighbours, the affordability and availability of “yama”, a pill-form of methamphetamine, means it is not immune to the issue.

David Harding has been working with Cambodian drug users for the past 15 years. He said yesterday that yama first appeared on the Cambodian market in the late 1990s.

“The whole [drug] culture is dominated by meth,” said Harding.

He agreed that Cambodia was predominantly a source and transit country for drugs, rather than a destination. The high level of drug consumption in Cambodia, he said, was testament to the extent of the trade’s presence in the country.

“Traffickers don’t pay people off in cash, they pay them with drugs. So the fact that there is a significant drug issue in Cambodia suggests there is a very significant traffic,” he said.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), yesterday said Cambodia was a “victim country” in the global drug trade “as a result of increased production and trafficking of methamphetamine”.

The UNODC’s Douglas called upon the ASEAN nations to increase budgeting for border security and transnational law enforcement projects at a level more in line with investment in economic cooperation.

“The security agenda is several steps behind the economic agenda. The security agenda is quite a ways behind that, which is not as well resourced,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as