The amount of drugs seized last year increased by more than 10 tonnes over 2021, a senior National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) official has said, while arrests for drug offences also rose, with more than 1,000 being made.

“We cracked down on 6,290 drug cases across the country in 2022 – an increase of 40 on 2021 – seized 14 tonnes of drugs, and 502kg of drug precursors, and arrested 14,784 suspects,” Meas Vyrith, NACD secretary-general, told The Post January 5.

The increase in 2022 was a result of international criminals using Cambodia as a base for the production, processing of drugs for smuggling into third countries, Vyrith said.

However, criminals had failed in their attempts because relevant police forces nationwide had collaborated to carry out timely crackdowns, he added, encouraging all forces to continue strengthening law enforcement and combating drug dealing effectively.

He said that in order to ensure a safe, drug-free Cambodia, capital and provincial authorities had to increase their cooperation to crack down on every offence, as well as strengthen education and lay out action plans.

In Song, deputy director of the National Police’s anti-drug department, called on members of all communities across the Kingdom to tip off police, on 011 248 888, 015 222 226 and 066 661 661, should they discover or suspect drug activities were being carried out.

Alternatively, they could contact the anti-drug department via its Facebook page.

“Combating drug crimes is the obligation of us all, and the participation of members of local communities in the fight is of vital importance in supporting the government’s safe village-commune and drug-free villages policies,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said the increase in arrests pointed to a worrying trend, with the participation of all parties, including members of all communities, necessary to combat drug crimes.

“What is increasingly concerning is that the rise in drug crimes, and the growing number of arrests and seizures made, including of drug precursors, shows that Cambodia is becoming a transit point for drug criminals to produce, process and stock drugs for smuggling into a third country,” he said.

The National Police’s anti-drug department said that at present Cambodians aged 15 to 40 were falling into the trap of drugs, with police arresting on average 20 drug distributors and dealers across the country every day.