Source AP ©

18 drug smugglers arrested in Cambodia

The largest  seizure  of drug-making  materials in Cambodia:  18 people arrested  and more than three tons of  chemicals  used for producing amphetamine-type  stimulants   confiscated by police  on Monday.

The chemicals were seized in a raid Sunday on a farm located in a remote area about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of the capital Phnom Penh, said police Lt. Gen. Luor Ramin, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Authority for Combating Drugs.

He said the farm was used for storing, mixing and distributing the chemical to other points in the country to be turned into a form of amphetamine, often referred to locally as "crazy pills."

He did not identify the chemical involved except to say it was imported, though he did not yet know the source.

"In terms of quantity, this is the biggest case we have ever dealt with," he said, adding that the raid and arrests on Sunday followed a long investigation.

The most important ingredient in amphetamine-type drugs is ephedrine - also used in cold medicines - whose trade is supposed to be strictly controlled by international law and by the domestic laws of many nations.

The 18 arrested suspects, all men, included 14 Cambodians, three Chinese and one Thai national, he said. It is not clear yet what charges they will face.

He said the country has recently become a production point for illegal synthesized drugs such as amphetamines.

Southeast Asia has long been a major producer and exporter of heroin, and in recent years has also become a major source of stimulant-type drugs such as methamphetamine.

Myanmar is a leading exporter of both heroin and methamphetamine, which are smuggled into and through nearby countries. Cambodia has increasingly become a transit route for drug smugglers.

Luor Ramin said anti-drug officials are continuing their joint investigation with a government prosecutor's office.