Police confiscated 759 kg of drugs and arrested 7,246 people in drug cases in the first six months of the year, according to National Police anti-drugs chief Mok Chito, who said traffickers were trying to take advantage of Covid-19 disruptions.
The total number of drug cases were up 8 percent from the same period in 2020, from 3,131 to 3,391, said Chito, a deputy commissioner at the force in charge of the anti-drugs department.
However, the cases, drug seizures and arrests are tracking lower than 2020’s Interior Ministry-reported totals of 10,461 cases, 3,189 kg and 21,566 arrests for the whole year.
“The criminals have been working hard because they have seen that we are busy trying to fight against Covid-19. They tried to do it in secret, mostly in large quantities,” Chito said.
He said the police’s crackdown on drugs was targeting the local level of communes and villages. The country’s drugs problem had not improved overall, and it continued to be a problem globally, Chito said.
The country’s now four-year campaign against drugs has been criticized by Amnesty International for human rights abuses, including alleged torture and alleged ill-treatment.
Last month, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime issued a report that Cambodia was “increasingly targeted” by regional organized crime groups not just for trafficking but also the production of methamphetamine and other drugs.
Licadho deputy director Am Sam Ath said drug problems were systemic especially in countries with limited law enforcement.
“We have seen in the past that those involved with drugs have included law enforcement officials and some tycoons. So this is a big problem for our country — the implementation of our country’s law has not reached a standard,” Sam Ath said. “We must strictly enforce the law, no matter what official standing or rank that person has.”
The Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department reported in January that authorities handled 10,461 drug cases, seized over 3 tons of drugs and 5 tons of chemicals, and arrested 21,566 people. Some 389 of those arrested were foreign nationals, and 8,827 were users, the department said.