Raids on Drug Village Catch Dozens as Campaign Escalates

A day after Phnom Penh’s governor ordered police to rid a notorious slum of drug crime by the end of the month, 34 people were arrested within the space of an hour during raids on Trapaing Chhouk village.

According to a statement on the National Police’s website dated on Wednesday, the operation in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune, which started at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, involved both district and military police officers. A small amount of drugs was seized, but the statement did not specify what type.

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An overhead view of Trapaing Chhouk village in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, which has been riddled with drug dealing and narcotics use for years (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The operation was a part of the country’s broader campaign to eradicate drug crime, launched at the beginning of the year.

District deputy governor Sak Chankanharith said authorities had been working “both day and night” to advance the campaign.

“We are trying to find other methods in order to be successful,” he said.

Tuesday’s arrests, however, were a sign that the campaign still had a long way to go, Mr. Chankanharith said. “We cannot be happy, because the number of people being arrested is still high.”

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said he was proud of the officers involved in the raids for achieving “what our municipality administration wants.”

Last month, 729 people were arrested in Phnom Penh for drug-related offenses, he added.

Nationwide, there were 2,428 drug-related arrests in January—1,243 of them for drug use—a surge that has this year’s running total on track to surpass last year’s full-year count by May.

In a separate case, authorities said police in Stung Treng province arrested the leader of a drug ring on Wednesday and seized more than 2 kg of methamphetamine.

Yin Panharith, bureau chief in the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said police officers had been tracking the suspect, 45-year-old Em Sokphal, for more than a month and went undercover to arrest him.

Mr. Panharith said officers confiscated 24,000 meth pills weighing a total of 2.1 kg and valued at $20,000, as well as a Toyota Hilux truck and a handgun.

The suspect bought the drugs from Laos, and authorities there are cooperating with the investigation, he said.

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