Laos Opens New Consulate Near Drug Artery

Officials on Thursday inaugurated a new Laotian consulate in Stung Treng province that was established in a bid to improve cooperation on cross-border issues, including the frontier’s heavy drug traffic.

Provincial government spokesman Men Kung said Stung Treng governor Mon Saroeun and Laos’ ambassador to Cambodia attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the consulate in Stung Treng City, located about 50 km from the Lao­tian border. He said a Cambo­dian consulate would be inaugurated on the other side of the border today.

“The two consulates will help strengthen public security along the Laos-Cambodia border,” he said. “They will cooperate when problems occur along the border.”

“Both consulates will cooperate whenever there is a crime at the bor­der, with demarcation, or when people have problems cros­sing the border,” he said.

Mr. Kung said the new offices would also arrange future prisoner swaps. “After the courts make final decisions to sentence people, they will be able to go to prison in their own country,” he said. “We have noticed that it is difficult for families to visit Cambodian prisoners [in Laos], so they should have the right to serve their sentence in their own country.”

Deputy provincial prison chief Ruos Sothea said he was not aware of any prisoner swaps during his years at the detention facility. He said there were 33 Laotian nationals in the prison at present, most of them on drug trafficking charges.

Reports of drug smuggling across the Laos-Cambodia border appear to have picked up over the past year. Authorities reported three separate drug smuggling busts in the area during a single week in May, all involving crystal methamphetamine.

The porous border stretches some 500 km and offers a link to the drug-manufacturing region known as the Golden Triangle, a mountainous area where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet.

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