Cambodia is planning to join the regional anti-drug-trafficking operation Safe Mekong, which aims to stem the flow of illegal narcotics through the notorious “Golden Triangle” area, after Thailand and Laos announced they had asked for Cambodia and Vietnam to be involved.
Thai Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya told Thai media on Saturday that Cambodia and Vietnam would be invited to join the operation, established in 2014 to coordinate intelligence between anti-drug forces in China, Burma, Thailand and Laos.
“The Thai government is…ready to support funding and equipment to neighboring countries through a project set out to enhance anti-drug capacities of the neighboring nations,” the minister said.
Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Cambodia would accept the invite.
“It is going to happen, we just need time to discuss what it will involve but we need to do what we can to stop drug trafficking in our country and around the region,” he said.
Mr. Vyrith said Cambodia was already engaged in intelligence-sharing with Laos, which was bearing fruit in the form of cross-border busts in Stung Treng province.
“In the first seven months of the year, Cambodia has seized more than 100 kg of crystal methamphetamine, which included our biggest-ever haul [worth $3 million],” he said. “The six countries must protect their futures together.”
Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that regional seizures were at an all-time high for synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, and that large quantities of heroine continued to be moved through the region.
“Drugs come out of the Golden Triangle in the upper Mekong and precursors go in, but they also flow across the region including to and through Cambodia and Vietnam, and synthetic drug production has occurred in Cambodia,” he said.
“It is important [that Cambodia and Vietnam] are part of the initiative as part of a larger strategic regional approach.”
© 2015, Simon Henderson. All rights reserved.