Drug raids last year resulted in 21,566 arrests nationwide, with more than three tonnes of contraband confiscated in connection with 10,461 cases – all increases over 2019.

A National Police report on January 3 summarising anti-drug activities last year indicated that 21,566 people, 1,334 of them women, and 389 foreigners of 19 nationalities, 52 of them women, were among those detained.

Among 3,169kg of drug seizures, there were 767kg of crystal methamphetamine, 298kg of heroin, 113kg of ketamine, 72kg of MDMA, 14kg of cathinones (also known as “bath salts”), 9kg of benzodiazepines, 3kg of WY pills (popularly known as “yaba”) and a whopping total of nearly 1,900kg of P2P (a precursor for producing meth).

Additionally, confiscations included 297,898 live cannabis plants, 292kg of dried marijuana, 597 scales and 5,025kg of chemical fertilisers.

Police also seized 32 pistols and 26 rifles, along with cars, motorcycles and mobile phones. They requested a freezing of assets for three bank accounts worth $20,000 and six properties – two houses, two parcels of land, one condo unit and one warehouse.

Mak Chito, deputy National Police chief in charge of drug crimes, said on January 3 that the National Committee for Combating Drugs would ask for a renewed mandate from the government this year to continue implementing the sixth phase of its anti-drug campaign after its remarkable successes.

Chito called on business owners to cooperate in providing information to local authorities when they suspect that drugs are being used or trafficked at their locations so that police may intervene in a timely manner and their businesses would not be detrimentally affected.

“We have raided more drug sites than in previous years because, during Covid-19, much drug production remained in warehouses. Traffickers had difficulty to sell inventory, so when they had opportunities, they attempted to export them in bulk.

Consequently, our officers seized large quantities on site. Importantly, as drugs were transported via Cambodia, we also cooperated with Interpol,” he said.

Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia executive director Meas Sovann on January 3 applauded the raids but urged police to conduct even more to further reduce drug trafficking in Cambodia and the number of addicts.

“Police conducted many drugs raids in 2020, and most were large-scale. But the number of drug victims has also increased at correctional and rehabilitation centres, so we are very worried about the potential socio-economic impact if the prevalence of drugs continues rising,” he said.

In 2019, police handled 9,809 drug cases and detained 20,490 suspects, of whom 799 were sentenced to prison. Drug seizures totalled 750kg, plus nearly 100kg of dried marijuana and more than 90,000 cannabis plants.

In a series of 61 particularly large busts, police impounded 697kg of drugs and arrested 140 people, including 27 suspected ringleaders.