Up to 150,000 methamphetamine tablets are smuggled into Cambodia every day with as many as 50,000 of them being consumed daily in Phnom Penh alone, the US State Department reported in its 2007 global drug report issued on March 1.
“The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 150,000 methamphetamine tablets enter Cambodia each day. Many of these are consumed domestically (as many as 50,000 per day in Phnom Penh alone),” the report states.
The accuracy of the US report, however, was questioned March 2 by a WHO official in Phnom Penh, who said the figure of 150,000 pills entering the country each day was not from his organization.
“Those [statistics] are from the UNODC,” said Graham Shaw, technical officer on drugs at WHO, referring to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. He added that the figures were approximately three years old.
Phauly Tea, a project officer for the UNODC office in Cambodia, confirmed that the statistics were from his office, but said that they were four or five years old and based on a very informal assessment.
“There was no formal investigation. It’s based on discussions with local law enforcement officials,” he said.
Lour Ramin, secretary-general for the Ministry of Interior’s National Authority for Combating Drugs, said he did not know where the US State Department got its numbers, but added that the amount of methamphetamine and heroin smuggled into the country is on the rise.
Based on the figures cited, more than 50 million methamphetamine tablets are entering Cambodia each year.
The State Department report also said that heroin and methamphetamine enter Cambodia primarily through the northern provinces of Stung Treng and Preah Vihear and that the Cambodian government is concerned by the significant increase in use of amphetamine-type stimulants.
Corruption, low salaries for civil servants and a shortage of trained personnel were hindering the government’s anti-drug efforts, the report added.