A new report shows a dramatic increase in drug use throughout Cambodia and names border province Stung Treng as the main conduit for illegal substances coming into the country.
According to the report, prepared by the National Authority for Combating Drugs, there were 6,876 reported drug users in 2005—up more than 1,300 from the year before.
Officials said, however, that the actual number of drug users could be as much as ten times higher.
“The increase of drug users is a big issue,” said NACD Secretary-General Teng Savong.
“Our authority, and other concerned departments, particularly the Ministry of Social Affairs, have tried our best to help drug users…we require rehabilitation centers in capitals and other provinces to help drug users,” he said.
The report named amphetamines pills and Ecstasy as favorites among drug users, and said they were smuggled primarily through provinces along the borders with Thailand and Laos. The report found Stung Treng to be home to the most drug activity.
Chou Pi Chhoura, chief of Stung Treng provincial penal police, said his province was only a transitional area for drugs.
“There are fewer drug users, but this province is a gateway for drugs smuggled from Laos and Thailand. Drug dealers and drug smugglers who have been arrested are not all residents in this province,” he said, adding that he believed most drug smugglers reside elsewhere.
The NACD report also said officials were not found to be involved the drug trade.
“According to our investigation, we have not received any information or evidence to prove that there are high-ranking officials involved with drug smuggling into Cambodia,” Teng Savong said.
“But I found some police officials at lower levels who took chances smuggling drugs for their own interest,” he said, though he declined to reveal how many lower-ranking police officials were found to be smuggling drugs.