Australian and Cambodian police have signed an information and skill sharing agreement aimed at stemming the flow of drugs and dirty money between the two countries amid a spike in heroin trafficking.
Dubbed “Strikeforce Dragon,” the joint crime-fighting initiative was formalized during a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Tuesday presided over by National Police Commissioner Neth Saveoun and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Andrew Colvin, according to a statement released by the AFP.
“Australia already enjoys a close law enforcement relationship with its Cambodian counterparts to protect our respective communities and to bring to justice those that seek to profit from transnational crime,” Mr. Colvin said in the statement.
According to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith, the two forces will, starting immediately, conduct joint investigations into suspected cross-border drug trafficking rings.
“In accordance with the memorandum of understanding, we will have joint investigations…to crack down on drug offenses,” General Chantharith said, adding that Australia would lend Cambodian investigators “two or three” technicians per investigation.
A report released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in February states that Cambodia has become “a transhipment hub of growing importance, and a source of heroin shipped to Australia.”
During the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Australia and Cambodia also renewed an existing pact that allows police to exchange intelligence about suspected criminals who travel between the countries, the spokesman said.
The agreements are just the latest in a series of cooperative efforts between Australian and Cambodian police, who have enjoyed an increasingly cozy working relationship.
In October, Australian Embassy officials donated video cameras, voice recorders, binoculars and printers to the Interior Ministry’s serious crimes department for the purpose of preventing Australian motorcycle gangs from gaining a foothold in Cambodia.