TAKEO provincial authorities are probing suspects behind marijuana plantations in three communes in Kiri Vong district, after destroying the plants cultivated in 14 locations totalling 9,971sqm.
The plants were burned on the spot but the suspects escaped.
Deputy provincial police chief Sao Sarun told The Post on Wednesday that police cleared and burned the marijuana plantations on the top of Bayong Kor mountain, located in Preah Bat Chonchum, Som, and Ta O communes in Kiri Vong district.
Apart from the plantations, 10 reservoirs, 1,500m of irrigation water pipes, and 8kg of dried marijuana were also destroyed.
The operation, Sarun said, involved 150 provincial and district policemen and border police.
“We couldn’t count the number of marijuana plants we destroyed as they were just too many. We just went to the locations and destroyed them.
“But as for the dried marijuana, we weighed it at 8kg and burned it on the spot as well. The plantation owner escaped but we are continuing our investigations to nab him,” he said.
Sarun said police involved in anti-drug enforcement have disseminated information and educated village chiefs. Local authorities have also explained to the people not to grow marijuana.
They were told that marijuana is an illegal crop and that those caught growing, selling or smoking it would be prosecuted under the law.
Heam Srim, the deputy district police chief in charge of drugs, said the authorities have been investigating the secret planting of marijuana and have several suspects under surveillance.
Marijuana plants, he said, only took two to three months to grow, and because of its high selling price, criminal elements took the risk despite knowing it is illegal.
“Some of our citizens are forced to grow the plants even though they know it is forbidden under the law. If caught, we will send them to face the court,” he said.
Preah Bat Chonchum commune police chief In Vuth said on Wednesday that his forces cooperated with Kiri Vong specialist officers and provincial forces to crack down on such crimes.
“We always assisted the experts with information on marijuana plantations. This region is suitable for planting marijuana because of its thick forest and good soil which aids the growth of marijuana plants.
“Offenders always plant marijuana in secret. We always crack down on them by burning the plants. Just last month, we arrested a person who planted marijuana.
“But other people still plant despite it being illegal because it is more profitable than planting rice,” he said.