The National Police has warned again of taking legal action against people who plant marijuana after more than 5,000 of the plants were found in mountainous areas of Preah Bat Choanchum commune in Takeo province’s Kirivong district on Monday.
Deputy National Police commissioner Mok Chito said yesterday that authorities in the past had educated people living in the area about punishment for drug offences, but opportunists still grew the illegal plant around the mountains making it difficult for authorities to crack down.
However, he said police would intensify their investigations to find and arrest the perpetrators.
“I have already instructed to search for and punish those people that plant marijuana and for all private land used for marijuana plantation to be confiscated. Stop them from planting it and have them plant something else,” he said.
Yang Dara, deputy police chief of Kirivong district, said that through a regular crackdown on Monday, police found eight locations growing marijuana at the bottom of Ba Yong mountain, with 5,047 plants on a total area of 240 square metres.
“We have cracked down continuously from one point to another in the Ba Yong mountain area, but when we crack down at this site, the perpetrators illegally plant somewhere else,” he said. “Another thing is that it’s difficult for our forces to crack down in this area because it’s mountainous.”
According to Mr Dara, police are now searching for the people who have illegally planted marijuana to be punished by the law.
“We still do not know to whom those marijuana plantations belong, but we have a list to research and build the case to send to the court,” he said. “The land where the people have illegally planted marijuana is state land, it doesn’t belong to anybody. The perpetrators continue to plant illegally so we have to search for them.”
From the beginning of January until March 11, forces destroyed nearly 56,000 marijuana plants, according to Takeo provincial police reports, which brings the total to more than 60,000 including Monday’s crackdown.
And on January 15, forces arrested Keo Phu, 18, from Preah Bat Choanchum commune, and sent him to Takeo Provincial Court over the transportation of 10 kilograms of dried marijuana.
Separately, military police of Takeo province cracked down on marijuana plantations in Preah Bat Choanchum commune’s Chroy village in February and burned 65,000 marijuana plants in 38 locations.
According to the Law on Drug Control, marijuana growers face from six months to one year in jail if convicted, while those planting and drying marijuana for sale will face more severe punishment. Those caught trafficking more than 80 kilograms of dried marijuana face a life sentence.