Drug abuse and trafficking is on the rise in Cambodia, according to a new report from the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
Officials said in the report that a statistical estimate showed that there were more than 6,800 drug abusers in 15 Cambodian towns and municipalities, with the majority of the drug users located in Phnom Penh.
“Though the figure is incomplete, it shows the increase and we believe the [number of] users will increase more than this,” according to the report by Teng Savong, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
As of August 2004, the authority, which was established in 1995, has pursued 265 cases and arrested 514 offenders.The majority of the drug cases involved amphetamines.
Officials said that cheaply produced amphetamines are trafficked into Cambodia from neighboring countries, especially from the region of the Golden Triangle, which is where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet.
“Heroin and other drugs are expensive and that is why people tend to use [amphetamines],” Lour Ramin, deputy secretary general of the authority, said on Monday. “It is not only in the towns now but also in countryside and remote areas.”
Lour Ramin said that Cambodia is now perceived as a drug trafficking gateway in the region and the rest of the world.
“Now we have good laws, but we lack both human resources and equipment,” he said. “This is a weak point that [allows] trafficking to flow into and across Cambodia.”
In his report, Teng Savong wrote that authorities must do more to prevent drug traffickers infiltrating Cambodian borders and must increase the clampdown on both small and large scale drug distribution networks.
“Although combating drugs is a complicated issue, it does not mean we cannot settle the problem,” said Sar Kheng, the president of the national authority and co-minister of Interior, at a meeting of the authority last week.