Drug Smuggling Rose Despite Gov’t Efforts

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.”


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