More than 1,734 drug offenders were apprehended in the first four months of 2015, a 163 percent increase in arrests compared to the same period last year, according to the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).
Police from across the country met Monday at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh, where deputy National Police commander Mok Chito and NACD Secretary-General Meas Vyrith disseminated statistics from the first third of the year.
The NACD reported that 18 kg of drugs had been confiscated and 822 drug-related cases acted upon this year. Lieutenant General Vyrith, however, said the data did not necessarily indicate improved policing.
“It has been successful, but we can see that production of amphetamine-type stimulants has increased globally, so the market is enlarged,” he said. “When smugglers traffic the drugs through any country, it enlarges the market there.”
With its lax law enforcement and porous borders, Cambodia has long been used by international drug smugglers as a transit hub. Lt. Gen. Vyrith said this was still the case.
“We have not discovered any ATS [amphetamine-type stimulants] being produced in Cambodia, but we still see our country being used as a transit point for [drugs smuggled from] Central America, Africa and the Golden Triangle,” he said.
According to the NACD, of the 1,734 people arrested for drug-related crimes in the first four months of this year, 42 were Vietnamese nationals, eight were Nigerian, seven were Laotian and five from the U.K.
Crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” and methamphetamine pills made up more than 12.8 kg of the confiscated drugs, while 5.25 kg of cocaine was also seized.
Also on Monday, police arrested a man in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district with more than 200 grams of crystal methamphetamine, following a two-month undercover operation, according to Yen Panharith, a bureau chief in the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.
Mr. Panharith said his officers arrested Meng Ratanak, 27, near Boeng Tompun lake. Two accomplices managed to flee, he said.
“We are so sorry that we couldn’t arrest them all, although our police fired their guns in the air to stop them,” he said.