Interior Minister Sar Kheng has confirmed that the ministry spent nearly $1 million in incentives since June last year when he promised $10,000 rewards for police officers who seized one kilogram or more of illegal substances.
Speaking at ceremony to destroy 110 tonnes of fake products in Dangkor district’s Choeung Ek commune on Tuesday, Mr Kheng said that since his announcement encouraging officers to take action against drugs, the ministry has paid out nearly $1 million through the incentive program.
“Since I made the announcement, authorities have cracked down on one kilogram of drugs in nearly 100 cases and we’ve spent $1 million. I appreciate that they try to do it,” he said. “If the ministry does not do this, drugs will spread more throughout the country and it will be difficult to control.”
Mr Kheng added he would continue to offer the reward to authorities who seize more than one kilogram of drugs as drugs continue to be imported from other countries.
“I will continue this campaign. The bad social problems such as stealing, robbing and raping are due to the drug problem,” he said.
Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combatting Drugs, said yesterday that even with no budget to encourage officials, authorities would still be actively cracking down on drugs and fulfilling their work obligations.
He added that encouragement from Mr Kheng enticed them to work even harder.
“Encouragement from our leader is also part of urging officials to actively combat drugs. We are pleased that he announced the reward will still be offered,” he said.
In January, a Belgian man, David Noel, 34, was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport and charged with illegally importing more than one kilogram of cocaine.
Officials found the cocaine in his suitcase after he travelled from Brazil to Ethiopia, then to Thailand and onto Cambodia.
On Sunday, Thai national Noyim Kessada, 23, was charged over the smuggling of 1.6 kilos of cocaine from Peru to Cambodia through Siem Reap International Airport.
According to an Interior Ministry annual report, authorities cracked down on 8,173 cases involving illegal drugs in 2017 compared with 4,246 the previous year, an increase of 92 percent.
Authorities seized more than 296 kg of illegal drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, heroin, and marijuana.
A total of 17,795 suspects were arrested last year, a 79 percent increase over the 9,933 arrested in 2016.
In addition, authorities confiscated 88 vehicles, 2,246 motorbikes and about $51,000 in various currencies.
Foreigners involved in drug offences came from 24 different countries.