Students Majority of Nationwide Drug Arrests

Almost 70 percent of the illicit drug users arrested in Cambodia in the first nine months of 2002 were high school and university students, according to a government report.

Some 127 drug users were ar­rested up to the end of Septem­ber, 87 of which were school students while the remainder were sex workers and manual laborers, according to the National Au­thority for Combating Drugs.

Most of the students were ar­rested for methamphetamine abuse in Phnom Penh, the report stated.

“Based on information from primary and high school headmasters, mainly in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Sihanoukville, [meth­amphetamine use] is be­coming very common,” said Graham Shaw, of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

The headmaster of one Phnom Penh school reported drug use by students as young as eight years-old and methamphetamine pills increasingly being sold in coffee shops, amusement arcades and food stalls that congregate near schools in the capital, Shaw said.

Sold as “strong vitamins,” some individuals who sell methamphetamines to school children may not know they are harmful, and students who buy the pills may not be aware of the effects, Shaw added.

Also, with the cost of the pills continually dropping—now estimated to fetch less than $1 in Phnom Penh—methamphetamine use is growing exponentially, especially among students, prostitutes and manual workers.

“There is a need to raise awareness in schools about drug use,” Shaw said.

Anti-drug police confiscated 115,050 methamphetamines pills through September—almost 10 times the amount of pills seized in 1997—while drugs continue to flow into Cambodia across the Lao border in Stung Treng province, according to the NACD report.

Stung Treng province has in­creasingly been tapped as a major corridor for heroin and methamphetamines smuggled from the lawless, drug-producing “Golden Triangle” region of the Lao-Thai-Burma borders.


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