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NGOs urge Cambodia to  crack down on Chinese drugs

NGOs are urging government authorities to enact tougher measures against Chinese drug lords operating in Cambodia, as methamphetamine use continues to surge in the Southeast Asian country.

The calls came following news this week of the arrest in Sihanoukville of seven Chinese nationals who set up a factory in the coastal province to make the drugs from smuggled ingredients.

Authorities also seized 14 tonnes (15.4 tons) of drug precursors and production equipment during the arrests, according to a report on the National Police Facebook page on Tuesday. The 7 arrested suspects will next be sent for processing in Cambodian courts, police authorities said.

Drug use has now spread from Sihanoukville city to the suburbs and will eventually spread even farther into the country, leading to kidnapping and violence by criminal gangs, Cheap Sotheary — provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc — told RFA this week.

All drugs confiscated by authorities should be immediately destroyed, she added.

“We are concerned that many of these confiscated drugs are being stored and that some may be taken out and removed, as some authorities in the past turned out to be drug traffickers themselves.

“Authorities should be taking strong action in every case,” she said.

Also speaking to RFA, Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Pech Pisey said that Chinese drug lords began to come to Cambodia after they saw that the country lacked a strong rule of law.

“International criminals think they can produce and distribute drugs as much as they like,” Pech Pisey said. Cambodia must strictly enforce its laws if it wants to be kept off the Grey List of countries corrupted by money laundering released by the Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force, he added.

Cambodian Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng said during a National Day for Combating Drugs on June 26 that Cambodian police had seized a combined total of more than 100 tonnes of finished drugs and drug ingredients from 2020 to 2021.

However, of the nearly 10,000 tonnes of the finished drugs that were seized, only 6,000 tonnes were then destroyed, he said.

Translated by Samean Yun for RFA Khmer. Written in English by Richard Finney.