Corruption Abets Drug Trafficking: US Report

An environment of pervasive corruption is making Cambodia highly vul­nerable to penetration by drug traf­­fickers and foreign crime syndicates, the US State Department said in its latest global drug report, published earlier this month.

Although drug-related investigations, arrests and seizures increased in 2005, Cambodian law enforcers also continue to suffer from limited re­­­s­ources and a lack of training, the State Department said in its annual In­ternational Narcotics Control Stra­tegy Report.

“Corruption, abysmally low sal­aries for civil servants, and an acute shortage of trained personnel se­verely limit sustained advances in ef­fective law enforcement,” the re­port states.

There have also been reports of con­tinued military and police in­volvement in large-scale cannabis cultivation in remote areas, it adds, be­fore stating that China may be in­directly adding to Cambodia’s drug problem.

“The Chinese…are currently constructing excellent new roads and bridges connecting the border re­gions with the main cities and rural areas in Cambodia. Once these roads are completed, high speed trans­portation routes will facilitate even greater movement of drugs,” it warns.

In the meantime, heroin, meth­am­phetamines and cannabis are be­ing smuggled through Phnom Penh International Airport in small brief­cases, in shoes and strapped to individuals’ bodies, it adds.

In the first 11 months of 2005, 705 people were arrested for drug of­fenses, representing an increase of 231 arrests, or 33 percent, over the same period in 2004, the report said.

There were 10 heroin-related ar­rests and 13 for cannabis cultivation from January to November 2005. Six-hundred-and-seventy arrests, or 95 percent of the total number, were made in methamphetamine cases, al­though seizures of the pills drop­ped by 67 percent.

“In 2004, we were able to confiscate almost 1 million [tablets], of which one case was almost half a million pills…in Stung Treng prov­ince,” said Lour Ramin, deputy secretary general of the National Auth­ority for Combating Drugs. “In 2005, there were more arrests…but in each arrest we were able to seize less.”

Lour Ramin added that he ap­proved of the report’s conclusions, though he added: “In 2005 our officials did hard work in cracking down on drug smuggling and doing in­v­estigations.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he was too busy to speak to a reporter.


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