The National Authority for Combating Drugs, with assistance from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, has identified one of the chemicals found during April 1 drug raids in Kompong Speu province and Phnom Penh, officials said Tuesday.
Meas Vyrith, director of the NACD’s laboratory, said that so far no illicit drugs have been identified, but that NACD is still working with the DEA to analyze the remaining chemicals.
One ton of thionyl chloride was identified Saturday as one of the 17 different types of chemicals seized during the raids, which led to the arrest and charging of 17 people, Meas Vyrith said.
According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Web site, thionyl chloride, which is used in the production of herbicides, dyes, vitamins and drugs, is not a controlled substance.
Graham Shaw, technical officer on drugs at the World Health Organization, said that thionyl chloride is used in many stages of making methamphetamines and is a very dangerous chemical.
The raid in Kompong Speu province led to the arrest of 14 Cambodians who were charged Thursday by the provincial court for colluding in drug production.
Rotha Vy, an Adhoc monitor in Kompong Speu province, said that the wives of the 14 arrested men claimed that their husbands had only started working at the farm for one hour when the police raided.
The men, who had only had time to put on gloves, were told the chemicals were to be used for killing weeds. “The workers showed up at 6:30 am and the police came at 7:30 am. They just had time to put on their work gloves,” he said.
Khut Sopheang, chief prosecutor for the Kompong Speu Provincial Court, said that the men were charged because they were arrested working with chemicals used to make drugs.