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Government to create drug task force for airports

A Philippine national is arrested at the Siem Reap airport in 2016 after he allegedly attempted to smuggle cocaine in shampoo bottles. Stringer
A Philippine national is arrested at the Siem Reap airport in 2016 after he allegedly attempted to smuggle cocaine in shampoo bottles. Stringer

Government to create drug task force for airports

Cambodia’s anti-drug bureau wants to create a specialised task force to check for drugs at airports and ports.

At a meeting to discuss the idea yesterday, Meas Vyrith, secretary-general for the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said air and sea were the two most common pathways for drugs into the Kingdom.

According to Vyrith, a task force would allow law enforcement to better gather and share information with other countries in line with international agreements. “In other countries in the region, they all have these teams, but Cambodia is still checking and discussing this,” Vyrith said.

Drug checks at the airport are currently conducted by a combination of National Police and airport security.

Cambodia is in the midst of a drug crackdown that has stretched the limits of its prisons and drug treatment centres. According to the national drug authority, Cambodian authorities handled more than 8,100 drug cases last year – nearly double the year before.

San Chey, head of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said law enforcement should focus more on land borders and ports, where drug monitoring has “not been trustworthy” due to lack of technical capability and carelessness.

The US, which announced on Tuesday that it would cut several aid programs to Cambodia in response to the ongoing political crackdown, said yesterday it would continue cooperating with the Kingdom on narcotics trafficking issues.

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