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Illegal Oil Leads to Arrests

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Lim Sok Choeun, 55, and Nhek Vannak, 26, were arrested after being caught with more than 100 liters of safrole oil, which can be used to make ecstacy. Supplied

Two farmers were arrested and charged yesterday after police found more than 100 liters of safrole oil in their Sala Kumrou village residence in Pursat City’s Phteash Prey commune, according to police chief Lieutenant Colonel Chhorn Rith.
Safrole oil, which is extracted from endangered mreah prew phnom trees, is commonly used in the manufacture of ecstasy. Its possession is illegal under the Cambodian Law on Drug Control.
The farmers, Lim Sok Choeun, 55, and Nhek Vannak, 26, were charged with illegal drug possession. Police seized multiple containers of safrole oil from them, totaling 110 liters, Lt. Col Rith said. He added that police discovered the stash when they were raiding the farmers’ house on Friday.
Captain Seng Saroeun of the Pursat Anti-Drug Police confirmed the illegality of safrole oil’s production, transportation and sale.
He added that before it was made illegal, it was not uncommon for farmers living in mountainous areas in the Kingdom to produce safrole oil and sell it to drug traffickers. Now, however, safrole oil’s production is significantly curbed.
Mr. Choeun and Mr. Vannak could each face from two to five years in prison and fines between 4 million and 10 million riel ($1,000-$2,500) if found guilty.

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