A National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) official said samples from the 84 tonnes of chemicals seized during a drug bust in December 2021 – in which three Chinese nationals were arrested – showed that they were to be used in the commercial production of illegal substances.

NACD secretary-general Meas Vyrith told The Post that on March 7, a joint force – made up of its members and anti-drug specialists from the US and Thailand – inspected a warehouse in Sangke Satop commune’s Dambang Vinh village of Kampong Speu province’s Oral district. The warehouse was the scene of a major drug production operation.

“The foreign specialists’ participation was part of a wider framework of cooperation whereby we share experiences and exchange information with our international counterparts,” he said.

Provincial deputy anti-drug chief Mat Thuch said the three Chinese men who had been arrested at the warehouse were brought from prison to assist with the inspection – and it was thanks to their participation that additional precursor chemicals were discovered.

The trio – Ly Pohen, 31, Ye Yong, 47, both from Taiwan, and Yansu, 58, from mainland China – were arrested with more than one tonne of ketamine in the December raid.

He added that the joint force had received legal coordination from the Kampong Speu provincial prosecutor and the Phnom Penh Cunicipal Court.