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Police Receive Australian Help in Drug Fight

Cambodian and Australian officials began training in Phnom Penh Monday to improve the detection of chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs.

Cambodia is increasingly becoming a source of drug production, including methamphetamines, and is facing a rise in the use of cocaine and heroin, officials said.

“We are committed to supporting our neighbors and to building close regional cooperation in the fight against transnational crime,” Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson said at the opening of the course.

In April 2007, Cambodian police made a massive raid on a drug-production facility in Kampong Speu province, finding tons of precursor chemicals for making methamphetamines. This year, police have made several seizures of sassafras oil, which is used to make the drug Ecstasy.

The raids highlighted the need for increased vigilance by Cambodian authorities to stop the manufacture, supply and trafficking of precursor chemicals, Adamson said.

“These seizures demonstrate that Cambodia faces the challenges of suppressing drug production for regional export, as well as challenges faced as a transit center for regional and international drug markets,” she said. “Cambodia also faces rapidly growing illicit drug use in the country.”

Lt. Gen. Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Cambodia was threatened by the increase of illicit drug trafficking, due to its weak legal system, inadequate human resources among citizens and geographic location near the Golden Triangle.

“Our legal system has some weaknesses compared to the countries surrounding us,” he said. “We have no law to execute [drug traffickers].”

Cambodian police and customs officials will receive training through Wednesday in the detection and identification of hazardous materials used in drug production.