Police Destroy Mountaintop Marijuana Farms

Military police on Saturday razed two marijuana plantations they found on a remote mountaintop in Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district, a military police official said Sunday.

Two local bamboo harvesters, who first discovered the illegal crops, led 10 military police on a three-hour trek to the top of Phnom Chros Kruoch (Fallen Citrus Mountain), where they found more than 500 cannabis plants growing on state land in Stung Keo commune, said provincial military police chief Sem Soeun.

“First, we found a marijuana farm with 250 plants, then a second marijuana farm with 273 plants,” Mr. Soeun said, adding that no supervisors or farmhands were present at the time of the raid.

“We spent three hours climbing, including getting lost on the way,” he said.

“Ten military police officers were led by two villagers who knew the place, first on motorbikes and then on foot, about 3.5 km until we reached the top of the mountain without having had lunch.”

Mr. Soeun said that after counting, cutting and collecting the cannabis plants, his officers burned them in piles using melted plastic bottles as fuel.

“We decided to burn them on the spot after reporting to our commander”—provincial military police chief Tep Vanna—“and the chief prosecutor because it would have been difficult to take them to the military police station,” he said, adding that his officers would continue to search for the individuals responsible for the illegal plants.

Saturday’s raid took place just 7 km from Phnom Thlan Muroi (Mountain of 100 Serpents), made famous by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Kampot’s Chhuk district in February 2000. At the time, he called a recent and much-publicized burning of marijuana on the mountain, which was organized by the National Authority for Combating Drugs, a media stunt.

The prime minister also mocked provincial officials for being afraid to enter the area, formerly controlled by the Khmer Rouge, because of an armed local militia.

“Is this a marijuana state?” he asked. “In the marijuana state, we cannot enter inside its borders.”

rith@cambodiadaily.com

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