In the first four months of this year, authorities cracked down on 2,520 criminal cases involving drugs, confiscating more than 300kg of illegal substances and detaining 5,405 suspects. Of this number, 255 were female, a report by the General Commissariat of National Police revealed.
While hailing the measures against drugs, civil society groups voiced concerns that the ringleaders in such crimes were not being targeted.
The report states that in the first quarter of this year, authorities seized more than 333kg of illegal substances, with 598 small packages found, while 30kg of processed marijuana and 45,999 cannabis plants were confiscated.
Fifteen cars, 460 motorbikes, 1,420 mobile phones, 91 sets of weighing scales and two guns were also seized.
“There were 1,538 cases of dealing and possessing drugs from January 1 to April 30 of this year, while 2,936 suspects were detained, including 255 women."
“There were 968 cases of drug use, with 2,467 people detained, including 172 women. There were also 13 cases of planting marijuana, with two people detained, and one case of processing marijuana,” the National Police report says.
“I will continue to crack down on large-scale drug crimes and we will do much better this year. Indeed, after a campaign on the control of alcohol over the past week, I have observed that traffic accidents have decreased,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Sar Thet said last week.
Hang Petou, the director of the Administrative Bureau of the Centre for Drug Addiction Rehabilitation and Treatment (DTA), said on Thursday that the number of drug offences had increased alarmingly over the first four months of the year.
He said he was worried that drugs were ruining the future of Cambodia’s youth, who were the foundations of the nation and the driving force of its development, with drug users being apprehended daily.
“I am very concerned that compared with our generation, the use of drugs is skyrocketing. We support the crackdown on drugs, but the people being arrested are small-time."
“I urge the authorities to continue tackling the ringleaders because even though some have been arrested, there are still many more out there,” he said.
Meas Sovann, the director of the Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia, said he fully supported the crackdown on drug crimes and urged the authorities to continue targeting the ringleaders.
“I am very happy to have seen the authorities arrest major ringleaders and drug dealers. I will use the analogy that when we clean a house, we must do so from the top floor down, otherwise we are sitting fanning dust,” he said.
Soeung Sen Karuna, the spokesman for rights group Adhoc, agreed that authorities must focus on “powerful ringleaders” in the fight against drugs. He warned that raids on only low-level dealers and drug users missed the main targets.
“The main sources in the drugs trade have not yet been raided because they are powerful people, and this allows the problem to continue and worsen. The authorities should change their tactics to focus on the powerful ringleaders,” he said.
A National Authority for Combating Drugs report said that of the 16,139 people arrested last year for drug crime, 1,339 were female. It said 310 were foreigners from 24 countries, with 48 of them being women.
There were 5,033 cases involving trafficking, storage, processing and growing. In total, 9,049 people were arrested, 913 of whom were female. Drug use accounted for 4,946 cases, with 7,099 people arrested, of whom 4,260 were female.