Police Arrest 89 Prior to Drug Conference

Ahead of a regional conference on drug trafficking today, Phnom Penh municipal Military Police ar­rested 89 drug users and distributors in what they said was the big­gest roundup in recent memory.

The suspects, aged 16 to 22, were arrested Sunday and Mon­day in a raid that netted 166 amphetamine pills, said Seng Song, chief of the municipal Military Police.

Of the 87 young men and two women, most were students nabbed in six districts throughout the city, he said Tuesday.

“This is the biggest one of our crackdowns on drug users in Phnom Penh,” Seng Song said.

Eight of the men arrested were suspected of distributing drugs and will be sent to court today.

The Military Police will consider sending the others to the municipal rehabilitation center in Choam Chao commune for “re-education” or release them to their parents, the chief said.

“We did not send all of the drug users to court because they are victims and their ages are still young,” Seng Song said.

Separately, police in Phsar Thmei III commune arrested a 27-year-old man suspected of drug dealing Saturday, said Long Chhorn, deputy police chief for the commune.

Also, two boys, aged 14, were arrested and 13 amphetamine pills confiscated by Chamkar Mon district police on Saturday,  Ouch Sokhon, the district’s dep­uty police chief, said Tuesday.

The two have been sent to the Choam Chao rehabilitation center, he said.

The subject of rehabilitation—and the idea of not treating users as criminals—will be one of the topics discussed in today’s annual tri-lateral meeting on drugs between Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, hosted in Phnom Penh, said Graham Shaw of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime.

“As Prime Minister Hun Sen said last year, drug users are victims and should not be locked up,” Shaw said. “If they’re using a more human rights-based ap­proach…that’s very good.”

The meeting is also expected to focus on efforts to crack down on large-scale drug trafficking, he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)

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