The number of drug-related criminal cases and arrests jumped 37 per cent in the first half of the year to 2,158 cases, up from 1,573 in the same period for 2015, according to statistics from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).
The NACD is working to boost its capacity to crack down on drug crimes, an official said at a meeting between Cambodian and Thai anti-narcotics officials yesterday in Phnom Penh.
But one hoped-for new tool, a sub-decree passed in March that will allow police to confiscate 70 per cent of convicted drug dealers’ property then reinvest it in the NACD, had yet to be implemented.
“We need those resources to boost the capacity of our technical officials and help in the fight against drugs,” said Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the NACD.
Officials also said that drug use in Cambodia was now increasingly spreading from the major cities to rural areas.
“The culture of drug use grew so fast in Phnom Penh that by 2006 it became endemic,” explained David Harding, an expert with more than a decade of experience working with drug users in Cambodia. “But you reach a saturation point in a center like Phnom Penh and you begin looking for new markets.”