‘Golden Triangle’ reviving reputation as drugs haven

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(From left) Meas Vyrith, head of the NACD general secretariat, and Preah Vihear provincial deputy governor Sou Serey. INFORMATION MINISTRY

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) has launched an action plan to prevent drug trafficking from the “Golden Triangle” region along the Mekong River, which comprised of portions of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, while urging provincial authorities in five border provinces to step up drug interdiction efforts.

Meas Vyrith, head of the NACD general secretariat, told The Post on September 19 that in order to achieve the implementation of the Mekong River Safety Project agreed on by the six Mekong countries – Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China – they have selected five provinces as the primary targets for cracking down on drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle region.

“In 2020, Cambodia selected two provinces – Preah Vihear and Stung Treng – for increased anti-drug trafficking efforts. Now in 2021, Cambodia is expanding that to three more provinces.

“In 2021, we selected five provinces along the border where drug trafficking activity is commonly occurring. We have action plans in place . . . for the border provinces to prevent drug trafficking across the borders of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng,” he explained.

He continued that the production of drugs from the Golden Triangle region contributes to the supply of illegal drugs in Cambodia’s local markets, leaving many young people affected by addiction or ending up in prison due to the lure of easy money.

Due to the dangers posed by drugs, the governments of the six Mekong countries launched joint regional anti-drug activities to suppress the supply of drugs and narrow the drug market.

He said they were trying to put pressure on the traffickers in the Golden Triangle region by eliminating their smuggling networks and making it harder for them to operate.

According to Vyrith, drug production in the Golden Triangle region has recently become even more active and the increasing volume of drugs and the level of danger to regional security pose a risk to all of the greater Mekong sub-region countries.

“Most of the drugs passing through Cambodia come from the Golden Triangle region and the situation is now more complicated because the production has shifted from drugs manufactured by refining plants like opium to entirely synthetic laboratory-made drugs produced solely from chemicals, which makes manufacturing cheaper and faster. It’s a huge problem,” he said

Vyrith said that in 2019, the six Mekong countries launched a joint operation with checkpoints, investigations and monitoring activities established.

Last week, Vyrith held a meeting with the Preah Vihear provincial authorities on the prevention of drug trafficking and preventing drug-related activities.

Preah Vihear deputy governor Sou Serey said the provincial authorities were ready to prevent drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle region and to prevent the flow of chemical compounds from the countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region and beyond into the Golden Triangle.

Stung Treng provincial anti-drug bureau chief Chem Phanith said that this year authorities launched an operation to crack down on crime along the Mekong River by deploying patrol forces at the most common locations providing easy access to traffickers in the province. He said they had encountered only one case involving 3kg of drugs so far this year.

According to the anti-drug department of the National Police, in the first six months of this year the police had seized more than 800kg of drugs and arrested more than 7,000 suspects, 120 of whom were foreigners of eight different nationalities.