The number of drug arrests across Cambodia since last November rose nearly 70 percent compared to the same period a year ago, yielding some 111 kilos of confiscated drugs, according to a preliminary report by the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
The report, which was obtained yesterday and still needs to be finalised, compiled data on drug cases in the Kingdom from November 2015 through September 2016. That period saw the number of arrests sharply increase to more than 8,000, with only about 4,800 people arrested in the same period last year. No comparison was offered for the amount of drugs confiscated.
The number of drug cases sent to court also rose to 3,406, compared with 2,190 the previous year during the same time, representing a 55 percent increase, the report shows.
Khieu Saman, director of the anti-drug department at the Ministry of Interior, said that a better understanding of investigation procedures among officers had contributed to the increase of arrests. This year alone, 2,600 police officers have been trained across all provinces.
“In the past, there were also many drug crimes, but we did not understand the procedure,” he said yesterday.
However, experts in the past have expressed concerns over the number of arrests in comparison to the amount of drugs, and have suggested the ratio pointed to police only catching “smaller fish”, as opposed to large-scale drug dealers.
Tun Nay Soe, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, declined to comment on the specifics of the report, but did say that Cambodia is a transit route for drugs, which is not a good sign.