The six nations along the Mekong River have vowed to increase cooperation in combating drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle area and the import of chemical substances for drug production. - NSTP/ZAMAN HURI ISA

PHNOM PENH: The six nations along the Mekong River have vowed to increase cooperation in combating drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle area and the import of chemical substances for drug production.

The pledge was made as Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China wrapped up a meeting on the implementation of a Mekong River safety project here.

The governments earlier gave updates and assessments of their clampdowns on drug trafficking, which had increased and posed serious threats to countries along the river.

General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs secretary-general Meas Virith told the Phnom Penh Post that in the first three months of this year, the six nations had recorded 3,200 cases involving drugs weighing more than 1kg.

The operations resulted in the arrest of 3,440 suspects, a notable increase compared with the same period last year.

“Criminal groups are still ambitious in producing drugs at a low cost and selling it for a high profit. They spend only US$300 to produce 1kg of drugs.

“And if they sell it in Japan or Australia, it can fetch up to US$800,000.

“In Cambodia, it is between US$30,000 and US$50,000, which encourages criminals to take risks.”

He said China, Myanmar and Thailand, which had bigger populations, made the most seizures and arrests while Cambodia saw only 19 such cases.

He said drug traffickers were not into Cambodia as much as the market remained relatively small compared with other countries in the region.

He said the low numbers of traffickers caught was also because Cambodian authorities had made greater efforts in eliminating and preventing drug trafficking.

Virith said the Mekong River countries had been cracking down on armed drug trafficking groups as they continued to expand their production and distribution.

“We do whatever we can to cooperate in sharing information so that we can keep up with the situation and prevent the influx of drugs from the Golden Triangle.

“We have also made efforts in preventing the import of chemical substances from China and India for producing drugs.”

He said the trafficking of synthesised drugs warranted stronger cooperation among the six countries.

Drug Addict Relief Association of Cambodia president Meas Sovann said drug trafficking in Cambodia remained at a much smaller scale compared with other Mekong river countries.

He said drug use in Cambodia had not seen a dramatic decrease despite strong efforts by Cambodian authorities.

“Now drugs have even spread to rural areas. Wherever people live, drugs are prevalent.

“But the government has been attentive in preventing and cracking down on drug trafficking and consumption.”

He urged the authorities to step up investigations, locate places that produce drugs and identify ringleaders behind drug distribution.

Cambodia’s anti-drug campaign has proved significantly successful mainly due to its crackdown on all entertainment places that allowed drug distribution in Phnom Penh.

The authorities have also seized one tonne of drugs imported from Laos through land, mail and airports.