Drug smuggling across Cambodian borders continued to rise over the last 12 months despite government initiatives to hamstring the trade, drug officials said Monday.
In 2004, 489 drug smugglers were arrested in 217 separate busts, compared with 179 busts in 2003, according to a 2004-2005 report released Monday by the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
“The increase in arrest figures shows that the authorities have been working hard to combat and crack down on drug smuggling in our country,” Deputy Secretary-General of the National Drug Authority Lour Ramin said. “It also indicates that there is an increase in drug smuggling throughout the region, not just in Cambodia.”
Among those arrested were 388 Cambodians, 27 Vietnamese, one Thai, one Laotian, one Nigerian, one Indian, one British citizen and one US citizen.
Seven of those arrested were charged with the possession of the animal tranquilizer Ketamine, which debuted on the list of contraband substances in 2004. The report said 14,439 bottles of Ketamine were confiscated last year.
The most substantial increase lay in the number of confiscated amphetamine-type stimulants. According to the report, 860,996 amphetamine pills were confiscated in 2004 compared with 299,527 in 2003, with 209 out of the 217 busts reported in 2004 involving the possession of such stimulants.
“[Amphetamine-type stimulants] are a kind of drug that are used extensively in this country, especially among youth, laborers, taxi drivers and addicts of other drugs,” the report said. “This has impacted upon crime, social problems and the transmission of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.”
Deputy Director of the National AIDS Authority Dr Mean Chhivon said he was concerned that drug use had bolstered the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
“Drug users cannot control their sexual impulses, which is why they forget to wear condoms and place themselves at high risk,” Mean Chhivon said.
Drug education will be integrated into all levels of public education, the report said. Co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said that Cambodia will begin to construct rehabilitation centers “very soon.”