Some of the city’s most popular hotels, nightclubs and restaurants soon will be raided as part of a new citywide crackdown to stop methamphetamine use, officials warned this week.
City Governor Chea Sophara said police investigators have identified the night spots where pill popping and pill selling has been tolerated by their owners.
“We will take action over the next month,” he said. “We have reports who is involved in the business….We know all the groups.” According to a report last week by Tep Kim Seng, municipal anti-narcotics police chief, undercover investigators have identified seven hotels, 21 guest houses, 16 rented houses, five foreign-owned cafes and five restaurants in town where methamphetamines are trafficked.
Chea Sophara singled out the Manhattan nightclub at Holiday International Hotel and the Orchidee Hotel nightclub and karaoke club.
“These two clubs are the most dangerous,” said Chea Sophara, adding both have been warned to tighten up security, and keep drugs and underage customers out.
Don Penh District Governor Sourn Rindy said in a report dated last Saturday that police suspect drinks at the Orchidee club are laced with drugs, while investigations are continuing into a drug peddling ring at the Manhattan Club.
Although the nightclubs have expressed a willingness to introduce the new anti-drug measures, Chea Sophara said platitudes must be backed up with action.
“They say they are happy to cooperate with us…but they must mean it….If it continues I will complain to the courts,” said Chea Sophara, warning that the clubs will be closed down if they do not cooperate.
Orchidee Club’s bar staff denied the allegations Wednesday.
Victor Chao, managing director of the Holiday International Hotel, said Thursday that he is cooperating completely with the city to clean up drugs at the club. However, because drugs are brought in by customers it is difficult to stamp out 100 percent.
“We have to evolve into a city of law and order. This is a transition we all have to accept. We are trying to work with the city on this matter,” Victor Chao said.
But the municipality’s pending pill crackdown did not perturb one peddler at the Manhattan Club Tuesday night who was seen offering two grades of amphetamines for sale at prices of between $10 to $20 a pill.
Bengt Juhlin, deputy head of the UN drug control program in Southeast Asia, said at a recent conference in Phnom Penh that the drug problem in Cambodia is a “time bomb” waiting to explode.
Skadavy Mathly Roun, adviser to the National Authority for Combating Drugs, restated the UN official’s concern Thursday and added that corruption in official circles is making it impossible to act effectively against drug trafficking.
Skadavy Mathly Roun said that anti-narcotics authorities know the country’s major drug traffickers but have not acted against them. In many cases, anti-narcotics officials have either protected drug traffickers or joined the business themselves, he charged.
“Instead of stopping amphetamines, anti-narcotics police have distributed them. So who will stop the trafficking?” Skadavy Mathly Roun said.
Seng Vanna, chief of staff at municipal police headquarters, said Wednesday that police are encountering more criminals who use amphetamines before they commit crimes. People on drugs are dangerous, he said.
The municipality will organize a drug-awareness seminar for all relevant city authorities, Chea Sophara said, noting pill use is rising, especially among youths rich enough to frequent clubs.
“We cannot continue like this. There are too many teen-age people who go to nightclubs and are under the influence of drugs all night,” Chea Sophara said.