Over the first nine months of this year, Cambodia seized 6.25 tonnes of illegal drugs – a sharp increase of nearly five times the amount seized in 2021, which was just over one tonne, according to a report released by the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Drug Department on October 1.

The authorities also detained 11,431 suspects for drug-related crimes, up 16 per cent from 9,828 over the same period in 2021.

The drugs that the authorities seized in significant quantities included cocaine, heroin, ketamine, methamphetamines, ecstasy, or MDMA, and methacathinone, a powerful stimulant often used as a substitute for methamphetamines.

There were also confiscations of the means and equipment for the production and distribution of drugs as well as other contraband like weapons, including 329 scales, 23 pistols, 49 rifles, 119 cars, 1,183 motorbikes and 4,381 mobile phones.

Meas Virith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), expressed concerns over the new trends in drug use like drug traffickers reducing their prices, which in part drives increased consumption and indicates that the market is actually oversupplied.

To address the issue, he stressed the need to establish mechanisms and measures to control the import and sale of the various chemical compounds that can be used to produce illegal drugs.

He noted that the Law on the Management of Dangerous Goods is in the process of being drafted and the establishment of an inter-ministerial commission should be finalised soon in order to be able to effectively implement a nationwide framework for control of those chemicals. He said the current problems with the diversion of chemicals to produce illegal drugs in Cambodia have reached a very worrying state.

According to the NACD report on the results of its operations in 2021, over 13,000 suspects were arrested with more than 6,000 legal cases built.

Of the more than 13,000 suspects, 362 were foreigners of 13 nationalities. The total amount of drugs seized through 2021 was 4.5 tonnes, a number that officials said was probably influenced by the circumstances of the pandemic.