Cambodia Destroys $70 Million Worth of Seized Illegal Drugs

Cambodian authorities destroyed over seven tons of drugs and their ingredients on Friday, as a drug-fighting official emphasized the importance of education in combating the illegal trade.

The National Authority for Combating Drugs reported that 4.1 tons of the destroyed items were drugs, including heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and ketamine, confiscated from traffickers across the country. The remaining 3.2 tons consisted of chemicals and other ingredients used to produce illegal drugs.

Gen. Meas Virith, secretary general of the drug-fighting agency, stated that the drugs burned in a brick kiln on the outskirts of Phnom Penh had an estimated wholesale value of $22.7 million and a street value of nearly $70 million. He stressed that if these drugs had not been seized, they could have harmed millions of people.

He highlighted education as the most effective way to fight illegal drugs, emphasizing the need to inform Cambodians from all walks of life about the dangers they pose. He argued that educating people to avoid drug use and trafficking is more effective than solely relying on crackdowns.

“As you are aware, if we use only crackdown measures, then we need to do so repeatedly. Let’s say this year we burn these things, and next year we will do it again,” he said. “But if we invest in drug education, awareness and protection, then drug activities would be reduced.”

Meas Virith revealed that authorities pursued over 3,800 drug-related cases in the first five months of this year, resulting in the arrest of more than 10,000 individuals, including foreigners.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has reported that the production and trafficking of synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamine, are at record highs in Southeast Asia and pose a major threat to its societies.

“Seizures of crystal methamphetamine have increased year-by-year in Cambodia for the seventh year in a row, reaching over 1.4 tons in 2023, showing the ongoing expansion of the market for the drug in the country,” the UNODC said in a report last month.

“The amount of heroin seized doubled in 2023. This increase in heroin seizures was observed in multiple countries in East and Southeast Asia, possibly indicating a reinvigoration in the heroin market in the region after declining seizures the previous year.”