The authorities have conducted 2,425 drug raids across the country this year, detaining 7,294 dealers and users, including 562 women and 167 foreigners, an anti-drugs official said.
Meas Virith, the secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) at the Ministry of Interior, told The Post on Wednesday that there were 2,100 cases of dealing drugs in which 3,973 people were detained.
He said there were 15 cases of drug manufacturing, with four people detained and sent to court, while in 1,310 cases where people were in possession of drugs, 3,321 of them were ordered to receive treatment.
“They were forced by the prosecutor to go get treatment. If after leaving the treatment centre they carry on using drugs, they will be punished with jail terms of between six months and one year,” Virith said.
He said there had been a slight decrease in drug crimes compared to the same period last year, but that the authorities would continue to find offenders as people are becoming more willing to tip off the police.
Virith said on June 13, the Ministry of Interior would hold a meeting to lay out further measures to clamp down on drugs at entertainment clubs. This followed Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng’s March 19 order to conduct more of such raids.
Sar Kheng urged the authorities to take tougher measures against the owners of entertainment venues, hotels and guesthouses in order to prevent drug use and distribution.
He said drugs have become a heated issue because they had spread from Phnom Penh to the provinces.
Sar Kheng expressed hope that over the next two years, combating the spread of drugs would become a strategic duty of the authorities to minimise or eradicate their use and availability.
Rights group Adhoc spokesperson Soeung Sen Karuna commended the plan to eliminate drugs at entertainment locations, because previous campaigns had failed to achieve their goal – especially among the powerful ringleaders who import and distribute drugs.
“We hope the new strategy and measures will improve the situation and get it back on the right track, especially by targeting the ringleaders,” Sen Karuna said.
He said he is convinced of the government’s commitment to eliminating drug distribution and use in the near future, but pointed out that in the past, there had been a stated commitment to stamp out illegal logging, but forests were still being devastated.