The Royal Thai Army suspects that Cambodian casinos located along the border are laundering money and serving as a storage point to smuggle illegal drugs into Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported Monday.
“These casinos are threatening our national security,” Walit Rojanapakdi, deputy commander of Thailand’s Burapha Task Force, which oversees the border with Cambodia, told the Bangkok Post.
Walit said his department is gathering information on alleged drug smuggling operations working within unidentified Cambodian casinos along the border, the newspaper said.
Cambodian Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that if Thai officials have such concerns, they should make them known through official channels.
“Why not use proper channels to settle the problem?” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that most of the border casinos also have Thai businessmen as part owners.
Khieu Kanharith also claimed that Walit may be blaming Cambodia because of his own “ineptitude.”
Asked about Walit’s comments, Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said Cambodia is a “victim” of the drug trade, but added that making unsubstantiated accusations does not help solve the problem.
“We would highly appreciate it if the Thai authorities could provide evidence,” he said. “The blaming of any country doesn’t work, but sharing information does.”
Officials at the Thai Embassy could not be reached by telephone and did not respond to e-mails seeking comment on Monday.
Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said that Thailand and Cambodia work closely together to fight drug trafficking and that the Thai officer’s claims did not make any sense.
He added that he did not know whether drugs were being stored in casinos along the border.
Chantha Thou, personnel supervisor for Star Vegas International Resort and Casino in Poipet, declined to comment on Walit’s accusations.
A human resources officer at Ho Wah Genting Poipet Casino Resorts Co Ltd, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied that casinos were storage points for drugs or involved in money laundering.
“It’s not correct,” he said. “Thai people come over to gamble, and that’s that.”
(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)