Anti-drug police seized more than 670kg of drugs and detained some 18,000 suspects in the first 11 months of this year.
The anti-drug department said in a report on Monday that from January 1 to December 8, it had tackled more than 9,000 drug cases nationwide, detaining more than 18,000 suspects including 381 foreigners of 12 nationalities.
In the nationwide operations, they confiscated more than 676kg of drugs, 99kg of marijuana and 86,416 marijuana plants.
“We arrested 10,287 people in 5,380 cases of drug dealing and trafficking. We also arrested 8,678 drug users in 3,675 cases,” the report said.
Deputy National Police chief Mok Chito told The Post on Tuesday that 70 per cent of the more than 18,000 suspects were involved in drug trafficking and had been sent to court.
The other 30 per cent, he said, were drug users and had been sent to rehabilitation centres.
“Drug crackdowns are making prisons overcrowded. It’s a huge problem. We’ve arrested a lot of them and separated them into categories – drug dealers and traffickers have been sent to prison while drug users were sent to rehabilitation centres,” he said.
Chito said drugs remain a concern despite ongoing crackdowns. The problem had spread to the countryside and localities throughout the country, he said, and urged officers at the sub-national level to join forces with national authorities in preventing drug offences.
“We all have worked hard to clamp down on drugs, but it’s still available to locals. This requires local authorities to work harder, especially the police.
“The national-level authorities work hard to tackle big drug cases and find it difficult to combat smaller cases because it is far from us. So, the sub-national authorities need to cooperate and work harder,” he said.
Meas Vyrith, the secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), told The Post on Tuesday that the Kingdom had put greater efforts in combating cross-border drug cases amid the increase of drug trafficking in the region and the world.
He said the rise was due to the lower cost of production and low cost of drugs, making it easier for people to buy it.
“The drug issue in Cambodia remains a concern because organised drug gangs cross the border from manufacturing areas close to our country,” he said.
Chito said there were currently nearly 20,000 drug users in more than 400 rehabilitation centres nationwide. He said the government is building another national rehabilitation centre in Preah Sihanouk province.
The National Police report said at least 1,500 people were arrested for drug offences in November alone.
Chuob Sok Chamroeun, the executive director of NGO Khana, said a continuous rise in drug use will lead to a serious crisis for youth, including health issues.
“Because the number of drug users is increasing, I think one of the best options is to put them in [rehabilitation] centres. But that will cost a lot of money and the condition of drug addicts will not improve without extra care.
“Parents should be encouraged to take care of their children’s health. They should send their children to get treatment at the centres. This is key to reducing the burden,” he said.