Drug Use, Production, Trafficking Rose in ’09, UN Says

Methamphetamine use and production is on the rise here and Cambodia is increasingly used as drug transit country, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report released Friday.

The report said “[i]ncreasing seizures of clandestine manufacturing laboratories and precursor chemicals, as well as the increasing availability of high purity crystalline methamphetamine,” indicated methamphetamine production was on the rise.

The UNODC report lacked 2010 data but said that from 2008 to 2009 drug-related arrests increased 57 percent and methamphetamine pill seizures rose 18 percent, while the amount of seized crystalline methamphetamine doubled.

UNODC also warned that “Cambodia is becoming a key transit country for [methamphetamine] and heroin” from Burma, as drugs enter through the border areas with Thailand and Laos and are shipped on to Taiwan, China and Indonesia.

“The number of drug users [in Cambodia] are increasing, although the data varies widely from one source to the other,” UNODC said. The agency said that although the government claims there are around 6,800 drug users in the country, the actual number of users is likely to be higher.

The report said 77 percent of all drug users in Cambodia were 25 years old or younger.

Meas Vyrith, deputy secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said yesterday he could not comment on the report’s findings, as the NACD lacked data to determine trends in drug use or trafficking.

“We don’t know if [drug use] is going up or down,” he said. “Drug smuggling still happens but we don’t have a survey indicating a drop or rise in this activity.”

Mr Vyrith said that last year NACD conducted raids on drug-manufacturing sites in four provinces, while this year officers had so far uncovered one methamphetamine-production operation in Kakab commune in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district.

He did acknowledge that the drug trade was possibly increasing.

“Criminals still expand their network to sell drugs and some teenagers don’t understand the danger of drug use,” Mr Vyrith said.

UNODC also joined the widespread criticism of Cambodia’s government-run drug treatment centers, citing World Health Organization research from 2009 that found the centers had “a post-treatment relapse rate of nearly 100 percent.”

 

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