Drug Bust Nets 4 French Backpackers

Four French backpackers were arrested Friday in Phnom Penh as part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on drug use by tourists, police said Sunday.

Three French women and a Frenchman were arrested at a guest house in Sra Chak commune, Don Penh dis­trict after they were found in possession of 330 grams of marijuana, Muni­cipal Ju­dicial Police Chief Lek Vannak said.

The owner of the guest house, Thay Bit Nga, 32, and two guest house workers were also taken into custody under suspicion of supplying drugs to tourists staying in the popular budget-tourist area of Boeung Kak lake, said Ou Vanna, chief of municipal anti-narcotics po­lice.

Cambodian authorities have long turned a blind eye to the use of the illicit weed, which is an ingredient in traditional cooking and has been available for years in markets. But recent drug busts have signaled a switch in the government’s usually tolerant policy. Last month in Sihanoukville, six foreigners were taken into custody on drug charges.

At least one Interior Ministry anti-narcotics official has de­scribed the crackdown on foreigners a diversion to take the spotlight off allegations of drug trafficking among high-ranking government officials.




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