Cambodia charges six foreigners for drug violations

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A Cambodian court on Tuesday (March 15) charged five Vietnamese and one Laos national with drug trafficking after police seized more than 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of methamphetamine from Laos in a major raid.

The six were arrested after police confiscated nearly 88,000 methamphetamine tablets, weighing 8.8 kilos, and three kilograms of methamphetamine powder during a raid at a Phnom Penh residence on Friday, said national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith.

"The drugs were supplied from Laos... and could have been destined for Vietnam and Thailand," he said.

If convicted, the six men and women face "a minimum of 20 years in prison," Hing Bunchea, a prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told AFP.

Local media estimated the drugs have a street value of more than half a million dollars.

Cambodia has ramped up its war on drugs in recent months, resulting in hundreds of arrests.

Despite these efforts, a US government report released earlier this month said the country has "a significant and growing illegal drug problem."

"Levels of consumption, trafficking, and production of dangerous drugs are all on the rise," the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said.

Cambodia became a popular trafficking point for narcotics, particularly methamphetamines and heroin, after neighboring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in 2002.

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