A police raid led to the arrest of three suspects and the seizure of nearly 1.5 tonnes of dried marijuana as well as drying and packing machines in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, according to officials.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Seang Sok said the operation was conducted by the anti-drug department of the National Police at around 7pm on Friday, and lasted until Saturday morning, after the police received a warrant authorising the operation.
Sok said that four suspects were arrested.
However, Khiev Samon, director of the Anti-Drug Department, maintained that only three suspects had been detained, interrogated and sent to court.
“From police questioning we know that one is the mastermind, named Dara,” he said, adding that a police expert determined that “this dried marijuana was not planted in Cambodia; it is imported from Laos and stockpiled at this location to export and distribute locally”.
According to Samon, police seized 79 packages that collectively weighed more than 1,400 kilograms, as well as machinery used for processing the drugs.
“Drying machines and packing devices were used to hide the smell so the suspects could evade discovery by the police and making it easy for them to trade and sell [the marijuana]”, he said.
Samon also refuted conflicting reports by local media outlets that the amount of cannabis seized was closer to 2 tonnes, saying their information is “biased”.
According to a National Police report, the first six months of 2015 saw police arrest 1,959 suspects involved in 998 drug-related cases.
This figure represents a dramatic 156 per cent increase in the number of cases compared to the same period in 2014.
Earlier this month, a marijuana plantation of some 171 plants was uprooted in Kampong Speu province.
And in June, an even bigger crop of nearly 8,000 plants was discovered hidden in a sesame farm and burned by authorities in Pursat province.
In both cases the owners of the land were absent from the scene, and it was local residents who reported the illicit activity to the police.