Seizures of Drugs, Precursors Spike

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Illicit drugs confiscated by authorities (Chorn Chanren/VOD)

Cambodian authorities seized 4.7 tons of drugs and 84 tons of precursor chemicals last year, a major increase especially in precursors, according to government figures.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said in a statement this week that the 4.7 tons of seized drugs included about 2.8 tons of ketamine, 1 ton of methamphetamines, 556 kg of ecstasy, 275 kg of heroin and 1 kg of cocaine. Authorities also destroyed 53,187 marijuana plants.

Previously, drug authorities said they had confiscated 3.2 tons of drugs and 5 tons of precursors in 2020.

Kheng said the rise was due to rising drug trafficking through the region. The drugs had largely been seized around Phnom Penh and near the country’s borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well as the coasts, he said.

Kheng called on greater attention to enforcement amid the rise in seizures.

“All relevant authorities must enforce the law strictly and honestly in their profession, and everyone must respect and enforce the law,” he said.

He added that arrests were down 40 percent to 6,308 cases, which included 5,264 drug users.

The National Authority for Combating Drugs said 138 cars, 1,988 motorcycles, 6,554 phones, 385 scales, 50 firearms and 78 million riel were also seized in 2021.

Police made a major haul of 80 tons of ketamine precursors in December, with a lab found on the compound of a highly-connected mango company in Kampong Speu.

The U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime said last year that Cambodia was being “increasingly targeted” for drug production by organized crime groups.

“There are growing signs that Cambodia is being increasingly targeted for large-scale illicit methamphetamine manufacture, showing organized crime diversifying their methamphetamine supply channels,” the UNODC said in a report.

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