Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has requested that all ministries with the right to grant import licences for the importation of goods, and especially synthetic chemicals, work closely with the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) to prevent criminals using Cambodia as a location for the manufacture of illegal drugs.

Speaking at the handover ceremony of 19 Ford pickup trucks to the border police on January 25, Sar Kheng said drug problems are causing serious social insecurities in the Kingdom that cannot be overlooked.

Authorities, he noted, have recently seized hundreds of kilogrammes of drugs, and more than 100 tonnes of synthetic chemicals that had been imported from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam with legal licences.

“More than one tonne of drugs smuggled from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam was seized, but more than 100 tonnes of synthetic chemicals were imported with legal licences,” he stressed.

With the synthetic chemicals being imported and turned into drugs, Sar Kheng asked, “Who is responsible for allowing the import?”

He said many high-ranking officials had signed letters authorising the import of synthetic chemicals that eventually were used for drug processing and production. He compared it to a car thief importing stolen wheels, engines and bodies, and then assembling cars.

Without naming the ministries responsible, Sar Kheng urged their minister to monitor the situation and work closely with the NACD. He suggested that they share intelligence to better work towards the prevention and suppression of drug manufacturing.

“Whosoever is in charge of this work, please help to monitor this matter. Otherwise, you will be responsible for a decline in public health and the socio-economic destruction of the nation,” he said.

Sar Kheng instructed NACD to prepare a list of synthetic chemicals that could be potential ingredients in the manufacture of illegal drugs and ensure that all relevant ministries were given a copy, so that they highlight those who sought to import them.

Ministries and institutions that licensed the import of any such chemicals would have to provide a detailed report to the NACD. The report would explain the purpose of any company that brought such chemicals and demonstrate that its use of chemicals was legitimate, he said.

“Our ministries are not separate states – we are a single state and must share information with each other,” he added.

The minister added that of the current 38,000 detainees nationwide, 54.52 per cent concerned the drug trade.

He encouraged relevant authorities to continue their excellent work maintaining safety and social order across the nation.

Seng Youan, director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Logistics and Finance, said that 264 vehicles had been delivered to police units nationwide since 2019, of which 231 were Ford Rangers.