The number of drug busts in Cambodia in 2013 jumped seven per cent from 2012, and trafficking activity – both domestic and international – appears to be on the rise, according to police officials and a report on drug policing released by the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday.
According to the report, police made 668 drug busts in 2014, up from 624 in 2012. Over the same period, authorities arrested and sent to court 1,405 suspects – 103 of them foreigners – an increase of more than six per cent compared to the prior year’s 1,320 suspects.
Police also sent 2,713 alleged drug users to the Kingdom’s much-maligned drug detention centres, which have been lambasted for their allegedly inhumane and therapeutically questionable practices.
“Drugs are a complicated issue for society, and we estimate nationally that we have 13,000 drug users, but it could be anywhere from 12,000 to 28,000. Most of them are under 35 years old,” Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said in a presentation on the report.
Sopheak added that police are “continuing to take action to combat drug-trafficking activity at the borders and airports, and we are urging them to combat large-scale drug trafficking and to step up combating [small-scale trafficking] at entertainment clubs on a daily basis”.
Khieu Samon, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department, said that drug trafficking, both locally and across borders, seemed to be on the rise as well.
But Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said that yesterday’s report showed increased action on the part of drug-enforcement officials, adding that figures for arrests would increase further once military police figures are factored in.
“Drug issues are a concern,” he said. “[Smugglers] consider Cambodia a country for transiting drugs across the border and at airports. We are making an effort to examine them at the airport and border
where they are crossing into and out of the country for drug smuggling.”