Phnom Penh’s ‘Drug Village’ Now Completely Cleared, Officials Say

Phnom Penh City Hall on Tuesday claimed that authorities had completely eradicated drug crime from Trapaing Chhouk village—a notorious hotbed for criminal activity in the capital—in a sweeping one-month campaign.

Almost 100 drug dens were dismantled and significant police patrols remained in the village on Tuesday, but concerns lingered that the lawlessness could simply sprout again—as it has before.

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A girl walks atop a demolished shack in Phnom Penh’s Trapaing Chhouk village earlier this month. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

The campaign inside the slum in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune followed an order from city governor Pa Socheatvong giving authorities until the end of last month to clean up the neighborhood’s drug problem. Success there would serve as an example to other drug-riddled areas around the capital, Mr. Socheatvong said at the time.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey on Tuesday said that in 25 days, police had arrested 231 people in 44 different cases. Of those arrested, 216 were drug users, 12 were traffickers and three had been renting out rooms specifically for using drugs—a practice that had become widespread in the village. Officials destroyed 95 such drug dens during the raids, he said.

“It is almost a 100 percent result that we have done in the Trapaing Chhouk area,” Mr. Measpheakdey said.

Police would continue to patrol the area at all times to ensure the drugs do not return, he added.

“We are afraid that whenever we withdraw the forces, drug traffickers and users will return again,” he said.

The 12 suspected traffickers have been sent to court for questioning and all of the arrested users have been sent to rehabilitation centers, Mr. Measpheakdey added.

Trapaing Chhouk resident Eng Sokheng, 47, said the anti-drug campaign’s successes had helped him sleep soundly at night.

“There was so much chaos here—they were arguing, fighting, shouting—that I could not sleep,” Mr. Sokheng said. “It is quiet now. Now I can sleep well.”

Fellow villager Thon Sreytin, 50, said that before the government’s crusade, she had been afraid for her children, who she worried might one day start using drugs.

“I am so happy that the authorities came to crack down on teenagers who came here to use drugs,” she said. “I feel happy, like I am flying.”

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