Cambodia Investigating HK Cannabis Bust

Anti-narcotics officials say they are waiting on information from Hong Kong to start investigating a 360 kg haul of Cambodian cannabis discovered earlier this month at a port in the special Chinese administrative zone.

The cannabis, concealed inside a consignment of 600 Cambodian coconuts, was the largest haul uncovered at Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Terminal since 1996.

A 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with the case, Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department said in a statement.

“We want the documents involved with this case,” Pich Chivorn, director of the Interior Ministry Anti-Narcotic Depart­ment, said on Tuesday.

“It is very important to know the name of the [shipping] container and the ship that the drugs were shipped on,” he said.

Pich Chivorn said he was surprised that such a large haul of cannabis was not detected by customs officers at Sihanoukville port, who are expected to check containers before they leave the country.

“Maybe they did not inspect it very well, and just listened what the owner declared [was in the container],” Pich Chivorn said.

Kin Ly, deputy director of Sihanoukville customs, said port authorities are also investigating the case but said they will need documents form Hong Kong to accurately identify the shipping agents and liner.

He denied containers were sent to sea without being checked by Cambodian customs.

“The smugglers possibly put it on the ship when it was at sea after leaving port,” said Kin Ly.

“Sometimes they hide it below deck on their ships where we cannot find it or they hire boats and transfer it from the coast to ships,” he said. “We want to see the Hong Kong report.”

An official the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention said on Thursday that Hong Kong and Cambodian law enforcement agencies have no direct lines of communication.

Information regarding the bust will likely be transferred through the Cambodian embassy in China.

Hong Kong police busted almost 2,000 kg of cannabis in April last year which they suspected had originated in either the Golden Triangle region or in Cambodia. The cannabis was vacuum packed allowing it to remain fresh for up to two years, Hong Kong police said in a statement.

Last year the UN labeled Cam­bodia one of the worlds largest producers of cannabis in the world.

The claim sparked an angry reaction from the Interior Ministry who said the UN’s information was based on production in the late 1990s.

Since then Cambodia had effectively cracked down on marijuana cultivation, the Interior Ministry said.

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