Police Seize 5,900 Yama Pills in Drug Raid

Banteay Meanchey provincial po­lice on Monday raided the home of a man they claim is one of the northwest’s biggest drug distributors, seizing 5,900 “yama,” or methamphetamine pills and ar­resting two suspects.

Chhoeung Sokhom, provincial judicial police chief, said his force had been investigating since 1998 the case against house owner Khieu Sitha, a former border po­lice officer, and his brother Khieu Prey Chea.

“We investigated this target for years, but we just managed to have hard evidence collected against them. So that’s why we made this raid,” he said.

The police raid was conducted in the presence of provincial court pro­secutor Nhoung Thol at Khieu Sitha’s house in Kompong Svay commune, Serei Sophoan district. The police searched the many-roomed house, which had a mysterious reputation because its doors never seemed to open.

Chhoeung Sokhom said the two brothers had been selling ya­ma long before the investigation be­gan. During the raid, police did not see any equipment used for pro­ducing the drug; they suspect the yama was smuggled from Thailand.

He said police are interrogating the suspects before sending them to court. Khieu Sitha has insisted he is innocent, putting all blame on his wife and children, police noted.

Police said they found records in Khieu Sitha’s house indicating that he cleared about 38,000 ya­ma pills in August alone.

Khieu Sitha and Khieu Prey Chea are considered to be among the biggest yama traffickers in Ban­teay Meanchey and Battam­bang provinces.

Chhoeung Sokhom said the number of drug users in Banteay Meanchey is increasing “at a seriously alarming rate.”

The drug is often used by low-income Thai factory workers. Many workers say they are forced to take yama in these fac­tories so they can work without stopping or becoming tired.

Someone who takes five yama pills per day will experience brief euphoria, then exhaustion, Chhoeung Sokhom said, while those taking 10 a day are likely to become violent and have mental problems.

“At 10 pills a day, it is very dangerous. Someone who consumes this much will freak out just from the sound of a can falling to the ground. And these people get so violent that they will cut their hands to suck their own blood,” he said.

This bust is the province’s fourth this year. Chhoeung Sok­hom said he hoped the court would mete out an appropriately se­vere sentence.

In the past, the court has often released drug offenders caught by police, he complained. “Police have sent many trafficking cases, but the court just frees them. I don’t understand what law they were using,” he said.


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