Drug Busts, Arrests Spike In 2015

The number of drug cases and people arrested for drug crimes in 2015 more than doubled year-on-year, while the volume of drugs seized shot up 18-fold, according to police.

Police dealt with 3,061 drug cases last year, up from 1,339 cases the year before, said Lieutenant General Meas Vyrith, a secretary-general at the National Authority for Combating Drugs.

“It increased 128 percent if we compare it to 2014,” he said.

He said last year’s cases involved the arrest of 7,008 people, more than double the 3,138 people police arrested for drug crimes the year before.

The general said authorities also seized 1,620 kg of drugs in 2015, including 1,513 kg of marijuana or marijuana oil and 5 kg of cocaine. The remainder was either crystal methamphetamine or methamphetamine pills.

The total haul is a massive 18 times the 90 kg of drugs police reported seizing in all of 2014.

Lt. Gen. Vyrith attributed the rise to an increase in drug traffickers and drug users in Cambodia but did not elaborate.

Last year’s cases includes what police called the largest single seizure of methamphetamines in Cambodian history.

In July, police in Phnom Penh arrested three members of a drug trafficking ring—two Chinese men and a Cambodian woman—found with nearly 55 kg of the drugs worth about $3 million.

At the time, the National Police said the drugs had come from the Golden Triangle, where Burma meets Laos and Thailand, before being smuggled from Laos into Stung Treng province.

Authorities said the drug ring had distributed drugs on at least two prior occasions and planned to sell part of its latest supply in Cambodian nightclubs but send most of it on to Taiwan.

In a report last year, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said the methamphetamine market in Cambodia continued to grow through 2013 and identified the narcotic as a “primary drug of concern” in the country.

In May, when the report came out, Lt. Gen. Vyrith claimed that police had been able to stop much of the drug flow by focusing their efforts on Cambodia’s northern border with Laos.

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