Foreigners Arrested in Siem Reap Marijuana Bust

Police in Siem Reap City on Tuesday arrested 18 people, including 14 foreign nationals, during raids on two establishments, where they confiscated a stash of marijuana and an as-yet-unidentified powder, police said.

Tao Vanna, deputy chief of the Siem Reap provincial anti-drug police bureau, said police first arrested three foreigners and two tuk-tuk drivers who they caught smoking marijuana from a pipe at one of the drivers’ homes.

“They confessed they bought marijuana from two restaurants,” he said.

Police then obtained a warrant and raided Villa Anjuna, a guesthouse and restaurant that caters to backpackers, and Happy Special Pizza, a restaurant that sells marijuana as a topping on the popular Italian snack, Mr. Vanna said.

“We arrested totally 14 foreigners and four Cambodian people at the restaurants,” Mr. Vanna said.

But police also made another discovery, finding three boxes of white powder that they suspect is a narcotic, Mr. Vanna said.

Although marijuana is illegal in Cambodia, a blind eye is often turned to the ingesting of the herb, which is a traditional ingredient in Khmer noodle soup, and has been adapted widely as a novelty topping on pizzas.

Harder drugs like methamphetamines or cocaine, which both take the form of a white powder, are taken more seriously by the authorities and their possession or sale can carry jail sentences in Cambodia.

Kao Maovirak, Siem Reap immigration police chief, said the foreign suspects included six women and six men, four of whom are German, four French nationals, two Britons, an American, a Canadian, a Swiss and a Dutch national.

“All of them are drug users, except two Germans, a man and a woman, who own the restaurants and are drug dealers,” Mr. Maovirak said.

Siem Reap Provincial Police Chief Oum Ammara said police were still holding the 18 people and had not yet charged them. He said a combined total of 1 kg of marijuana and about 1 kg of white powder was found.

“The three boxes of powder have been sent to the National Authority for Combating Drugs laboratory [in Phnom Penh],” he said.

“All of the suspects are not yet sent to the court because anti-drug police are questioning them and waiting for the lab result.”

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