Over four tonnes of seized narcotics were burned in the capital by the authorities today, as part of celebrations for the upcoming June 26 International Day against Drug Abuse. 

In addition to the 4,100kg of drugs that were destroyed today, 3,254kg of materials deemed too dangerous to burn will be disposed of at a later date.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court authorised the destruction of over 7, 350kg of drugs seized between 2022 and 2024. Of them, more than four tonnes were disposed of in the June 14 bonfire.

“We will safely dispose of the remaining materials in the near future, once we have determined a safe location and method to do so. The destruction of seized drugs must be conducted with the approval of the court – we cannot do it on our own,” said Vyrith, who presided over the ceremony. 

This year’s bonfire ceremony took place in a brick kiln in Prek Pnov district’s Samrong Khang Tbong village, in Samrong Khang Tbong commune. This marked a change from previous ceremonies, which were held at Koh Pich, in the centre of the Phnom Penh municipality.

The change was made to reduce air pollution and disruption of people’s daily activities.

Smoke rises from the brick kiln in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district as more than four tonnes of drugs are destroyed on June 14. MKTV

“We did not organise the burning in the middle of the city like we used to, because more people live there and it is not a good image. It affects people, as well as the beauty and environment of the capital,” explained Vyrith.

“We changed the location to Prek Pnov district and took photographs and video footage that we will be able to share instead,” he added.

In the first 164 days of the year, over 4,329 drug cases were investigated nationwide, with 10,793 people arrested and 4,724kg of drugs seized, according to Vyrith.

In the same period, the National Police shut down seven KTV and entertainment clubs including five KTV bars – two in Phnom Penh, two in Banteay Meanchey province and one in Preah Sihanouk – and two entertainment clubs in Phnom Penh and Kandal, police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said, in a recent interview with Ministry of Interior TV (MOI-TV).

“These measures aimed to narrow the channels available for drug distribution. They also reduced drug use overall. We will continue to work actively to address the drug issue,” he added.