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Drug busts up in 2015: ministry

Anti-drug police raid a property in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district containing two tons of marijuana in August of last year. National Police
Anti-drug police raid a property in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district containing two tons of marijuana in August of last year. National Police

Drug busts up in 2015: ministry

The Interior Ministry yesterday called for Beijing’s cooperation in tackling a ring of Chinese methamphetamine traffickers operating in Cambodia, one day after an annual Interior Ministry report announced that the number of drug busts in 2015 had more than doubled compared to 2014.

The annual report tallied 2,356 anti-drug police actions in 2015, whereas in 2014, there were just 996. Last year’s actions netted 5,032 arrests; arrest data were not available for 2014.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), said yesterday that the increase in the number of arrests was reflective of improved quality policing as well as a policy of specifically cracking down on drugs.

The provinces that saw the most busts were Phnom Penh, Kandal, Battambang and Kampong Chhnang, according to Vyrith.

Vyrith also noted that crystal methamphetamine was seized in greater quantities than any other drug last year.

Last June, three Chinese nationals believed to be part of a wider trafficking ring were arrested in connection with the seizure in Stung Treng province of nearly 55 kilos of methamphetamine and 345 grams of heroin.

In the first week of this month, three suspected Chinese meth dealers were caught with half a kilo in their Sokha Hotel bedroom. Four days later, another Chinese national was caught with four kilos and a handgun.

Police said that suspect provided information that led to the arrest of three more Chinese nationals on suspicion of drug trafficking at Phnom Penh International Airport the following day.

National Police Chief Neth Savoeun yesterday said at an ongoing Interior Ministry conference that the Cambodian police have sent the suspects’ details to the Chinese security services in the hopes of tracking down their accomplices.

“So far, we have not arrested the mastermind,” said Savoeun. “Having only arrested producers and technicians [so far], we need to keep doing so.”

His comments chimed with NACD boss Vyrith’s.

“We’re arresting the smaller dealers to find the big ones,” said Vyrith. “But we’re having difficulties finding the bigger dealers.”

At the start of this month, Vyrith’s boss, NACD president Ke Kim Yan, controversially spoke out at an annual Interior Ministry drugs conference, denouncing the nation’s prisons and rehab facilities as being riddled with drugs.

National police chief Savoeun went one further yesterday, claiming some prisons are now “the headquarters for crimes”.

He specifically called out the Stung Treng 55-kilo meth bust and a smaller 2-kilo bust in Banteay Meanchey as examples of large-scale trafficking he claimed was coordinated from inside prison.

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