City Officials Work to Wipe Out Drug Village

Authorities continued to knock down rows of shacks and arrest more drug users in Phnom Penh’s notorious Trapaing Chhouk village slum as City Hall said it was on course to completely demolish the remaining drug dens by the end of the month.

The village in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune has been a focus of the government’s six-month anti-drug crackdown aimed at crushing what officials said was a growing national narcotics problem.

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A worker dismantles a drug den in Phnom Penh’s notorious Trapaing Chhouk village on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Commune police chief Sok Sophal said seven more drug users were nabbed on Friday, adding to the 34 arrested on Tuesday night, and that raids would continue if the remaining sites were not pulled down over the weekend.

“Our authorities have informed the landlords to knock down their rooms in the three days from this Friday,” Mr. Sophal said.

“We will be working with ease to crack down on drug users and drug traffickers when those rooms are gone because the suspects cannot hide in there anymore,” he said.

Mut Sovann, chief of administration for the Sen Sok district authority, said on Sunday that 69 drug dens in the slum had been destroyed in four days, with 38 being dismantled over the weekend. Mr. Sovann said more rooms would be knocked down over the next few days. He could not confirm how many people had been arrested since Friday.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey confirmed that more rooms in the slum, which is difficult to access due to its narrow alleyways that sit on a fetid lake, are being targeted.

“Now it still has another 36 rooms that are going to be closed down because of drug users and drug traffickers,” he said. “We do not know when those rooms could reopen again. It depends on the court prosecutor. The people who provide places for using drugs will have to face the law.”

Khun Noeun, 38, who lives in the village, said it would only be a matter of time before the drug dens begin sprouting up again in Trapaing Chhouk.

“I see they never close down for more than a few months. The landlord will build again,” she said. “The government should buy everyone a house, so there will be no drug issues here in the future.”

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