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Cambodia Faces Drug Problem

Cambodia has become one of the worst drug nations in the region, a Cambodia drug official said Monday.

Youths, laborers, even fishermen, are driving the demand for cheap methamphetamines of the sort found in a major lab bust in April that put Cambodia on the production map, said Tea Phaully, a program officer for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Nearly four tons of drug-making materials were seized in a Kampong Speu province methamphetamine lab in April, the biggest bust in the history of Cambodia, which traditionally held a place as a major transshipment point for drugs. Officials said the bust demonstrated that Cambodia had become a major producer, as well.

"No elsewhere in the region can compare to Cambodia," he said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

Cambodia is also a major supplier of sassafras tree oil, which can be used in the production of the drug Ecstacy.

Workers along the Thai border are highly susceptible to drug addiction, Tea Phaully said, where they begin at first by smoking the drug, then injecting it intravenously, a practice that spreads HIV.

The workers have been tricked, he said. They think they can work harder using the drug, but they end up spending their money on it.

Drug rehabilitation centers have been established in Battambang, Banthey Meanchey and Koh Kong provinces, as well as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, he said.