Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US, Australia assist in drugs case

US, Australia assist in drugs case

US, Australia assist in drugs case

090327_03.jpg
090327_03.jpg

Foreign anti-drugs specialists come to Kingdom to help national police identify ten chemicals found after two tonnes of illegal substances seized in raids on four drugs laboratories.

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN 

UN and government officials set fire to the last major batch of seized drugs and precursor chemicals in 2008.

UNITED States and Australian police are working with Cambodian anti-drugs specialists to test illicit substances seized in a major drug raid last weekend, officials said Thursday.

In one of the most significant raids of the past two years, national police confiscated more than 2 tonnes of illegal substances from four drugs laboratories over the weekend in three different provinces. Four people were arrested.

Moek Dara, the director of the Anti-Trafficking Department at the Ministry of Interior, said the laboratories were in possession of nearly a dozen different illicit chemicals.

"This raid didn't happen by chance. Cambodian police have investigated this for three months, but now we need the assistance of US and Australian anti-drugs experts because there are up to 10 different kinds of chemicals that are outside our testing capacity," he told the Post Thursday.

Ephedra seized

Moek Dara said the most common chemical seized was ephedra, a precursor chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Moek

Dara said the precursor was probably imported in December from either China or the Middle East.

"What we are doing now is separating likely hazardous chemicals from knownhazardous ones because we don't know what kinds of chemicals they are, " Moek Dara added.

John Johnson, a spokesman for the US embassy, confirmed Thursday that an agent from the US anti-drugs agency was headed to Phnom Penh to assist with the investigation.

"At the request of the Cambodian government, the Drug Enforcement Agency is sending an agent to provide support to the national police,

who are taking the lead in this investigation," he said. "[But] as this is an open investigation, we can't discuss any other details at this time."

Fiona Cochaud, deputy head of mission and first secretary at the Australian embassy, told the Post that five experts from the Australian Federal Police were working to "assess and dismantle clandestine chemical laboratories located in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Takeo [provinces]."

Cambodians Sieng Lonh, 52, and Khun Sam, 53, were arrested last weekend along with two Chinese men, Mi Guang, 52, and Gao Xiao Ging, 36, in three different drugs laboratory raids in Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh. Police also raided a laboratory in Takeo province, but the suspect had already fled.

Local media sources reported Thursday that the laboratories had the capacity to produce drugs with a street value estimated at some US$3 billion, but Moek Dara refuted that.

"We cannot estimate the value [of the haul] because we don't yet know how many kilograms of chemicals there were," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Endangered animals found dead in Pailin

    An endangered gaur was one of “many” wild animals found dead in “dozens” of illegal traps in Pailin province’s Phnom Khieu Wildlife Sanctuary, said Chit Thy, a military officer working with rangers to protect the conservation area, on Wednesday. Thy, an officer in the 507