As Drug Crackdown Continues, Anti-Drug Funds Allocated by Results

Three law enforcement agencies—one each in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Svay Rieng and Stung Treng—are set to receive the highest rewards for their drug-busting efforts over the past six months, according to a government report released on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh and Stung Treng provincial anti-drug departments and the Svay Rieng provincial police department have been allocated the largest sums from a total of nearly $500,000 to be distributed by the Interior Ministry for seizures of more than 1 kg of illicit drugs, the ministry report said.

About $560,000 in total—sourced from drug traffickers’ assets seized by authorities and distributed for drug busts of more and less than 1 kg—would be divided between the Interior Ministry and the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) to pay for computers, cameras and other equipment for anti-drug authorities, Meas Vyrith, NACD secretary-general, said on Thursday.

“That money will be handed to the relevant bodies to improve any activities with which we had faced pressing issues,” General Vyrith said.

The capital’s anti-drug department was allocated the largest sum of any agency—about $280,400—for three busts that resulted in the confiscation of about 28 kg of drugs, the report said. The Svay Rieng department will receive about $55,000 and the Stung Treng department about $40,800, it said.

In Song, an officer at the ministry’s anti-drug department, said on Sunday that the capital’s department had yet to receive the money and he was unsure how it would be used.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Thursday officially announced a six-month extension to the government’s anti-drug campaign.

The initial phase was “only the first step in a very long process toward successfully reaching our goal to completely prevent the secret production, trafficking and use of all illegal drugs,” Mr. Kheng said.

Nearly 9,700 people were arrested for drug-related crimes in the first six months of this year, the ministry’s report said.

Olivier Lermet, regional adviser at the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an email last week that the country’s drug treatment services needed improvement and law enforcement had a crucial role to play in bettering services.

“When in contact with a person using drugs not engaging in crime, referring him to voluntary health services rather than arresting him is an act of good policing,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco and Kim Chan)

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