Police Find More Ecstasy Precursor in Pursat

Police in Pursat province on Tuesday found about 900 liters of safrole oil, which can be used in the production of ecstasy, buried in a Veal Veng district backyard just meters from where more than 2,000 liters was unearthed Monday.

The raid is a continuation of a monthlong investigation to uncover the oil—known as m’reas prov in Khmer—that is believed by police to have been stashed there in plastic jugs since a crack down on the toxic substance in 2012.

“We seized 31 more containers at the second house, which is 30 meters from the first hole we dug yesterday,” said district police chief Theang Leng. “Now I am weighing the safrole oil and its weight is 39 to 42 kg per container.”

On Sunday and Monday, Mr. Leng led the digging up of two stashes of safrole oil—one at the same location and another at a separate home 600 meters away—that totaled more than 3,000 liters.

No arrests were made, with Men Chan, the owner at the first raided home, cooperating with police, according to Mr. Leng. Yesterday, however, the police chief said police were seeking the owner of the second house who has fled, though he was not believed to be the owner of the oil.

“A 21-year-old man, Roeung Samnang, also known as Kmao, has run away,” Mr. Leng said. However, “the one who possesses the safrole oil is not the one who owns it.”

Police in 2012 made an effort to stamp out the production and sale of safrole oil in Pursat province, which has an abundance of the m’reas prov trees from which the oil can be sourced.

Oum Seng, chief of Anlong Reap commune, where this week’s busts have taken place, said that Mr. Chan, the owner of the first home, had shared information on the whereabouts of more than 200 buried containers of safrole.

Mr. Leng, the police chief, said that he would keep all the oil, which is worth upwards of $10 a liter, at the district police office as the busts continued.

“I am still searching…and collecting more information,” Mr. Leng said. “It is not over yet.”

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