Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed investigators to clearly identify the sources of drugs being trafficked to Cambodia in light of the recent case where nearly 500kg of ketamine was found on Koh Poulo Wai Island in Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Rong Samloem commune.
Speaking at the ministry on February 9, he said more work must be done with a focus on identifying the international sources of drugs being trafficked from abroad.
“Why study this more now? Because now we know that more and more drugs are being trafficked through Cambodia because we keep seizing more and more of them. A few days ago, [the navy] seized nearly 500kg of drugs hidden on Koh Poulo Wai in Preah Sihanouk province and handed them over to police,” he said.
Sar Kheng emphasised that the nearly 500kg of drugs were most likely not destined to be used in Cambodia. Rather, the offenders were probably trans-shipping them through Cambodia for distribution in nearby countries with larger populations such as Vietnam and Thailand.
While on routine patrol on February 6, the naval forces of the Front Line Maritime Security Command of the National Committee for Maritime Security (NCMS) discovered 465kg of drugs that had been stashed on the island, according to Tea Sokha, the deputy navy commander and commander of the NCMS.
Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), said: “With the nearly 500kg of ketamine the navy found, we are now examining it closely and looking at things like the methods used for packaging to see if this is possibly related to any cases we’ve encountered in the past.”
Vyrith added that rather than being dumped there, he believed the offenders had placed the drugs on the island to be retrieved later by others.
He also pointed out that last year the police had arrested more than 20,000 suspects in connection with drugs. They had also seized more than three tonnes of drugs and raids nationwide had increased by six per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said Sar Kheng’s remarks were merely a repeat of his previous instructions.
“The drug crackdowns of recent years have drawn criticism because they aren’t being carried out in a proper manner or in accordance with procedure in some cases. And they seem to mostly target poor users rather than the rich traffickers.
“No matter what rank or position someone holds, the law has to be enforced and applied equally,” he said.