The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 14 charged 11 Chinese men with drug manufacturing and trafficking, and money laundering, after nearly two tonnes of drugs were seized. The men were arrested in separate raids from July 4-9 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kandal.

Plang Sophal, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, confirmed to The Post on July 14 that the men had been charged with illegally producing, storing and trafficking drugs under articles 39, 47 and 54 of the law on drug control, and money laundering under article 38 of the law on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.

Major General In Song, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Drug Department, did not provide details of the operation. But according to the department’s July 13 social media post, the authorities arrested the Chinese nationals and confiscated 1.827 tonnes of drugs and more than 276 tonnes of precursor chemicals in the raids.

The department had been investigating the drug operations for more than three months, and on July 4 the police began a series of raids on suspects who were producing and storing illegal drugs in 12 locations. There were seven targets in Phnom Penh, two each in Svay Rieng and Kandal and one in Prey Veng.

The exhibits confiscated by the police included a mixture of 1.827 tonnes of ketamine and 276 tonnes of chemicals, along with the equipment needed for producing drugs. In addition, eight cars and three motorcycles were seized, along with seven properties including two condos, four warehouses, a factory and a villa.

General Meas Virith, head of the General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, told The Post on July 13 that some criminals appeared to be exploring the possibility of using Cambodian territory for processing drugs on a large scale, and authorities are cooperating with neighboring countries to monitor the situation.

“They are intending to produce the drugs here and then export them,” he said.

Virith explained that precursor chemicals were used to in the production of illegal drugs. Some had been turned into the final illegal product, but some had not. When police specialists tested the drugs seized, they found a clear link between them and the base chemicals found at the scene.