Cambodia is cracking down on a raw ingredient for the club-drug ecstasy by wiping out stocks of an oil made from the roots of a rare rainforest tree, an official said on Thursday.
Cambodian authorities, with help from Australian police, will destroy 14 tonnes of sassafras, an ingredient for cosmetics but also a precursor chemical to make methylenedioxymethamphetamine, more commonly known "MDMA" or the party drug ecstasy.
The amount represents all known stocks of sassafras oil in Cambodia and will be the second-largest volume destroyed since the authorities made the oil illegal in 2007, said Cambodia Police Major General Meas Vyrith.
"It is dangerous," Meas Vyrith told Reuters. "It would make people become victims of the drug."
The crackdown is also aimed at preserving a rare tree found deep in Cambodia's jungles. The roots and trunk of the M'rea Prov Phnom tree provide the source of the oil. Illegal logging is threatening the tree with extinction.
"Without the right measures, they would all be destroyed," said Meas Vyrith, who is also a deputy secretary-general of Cambodia's anti-drug committee.
The oil will be destroyed on Friday in Battambang province, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, using an Australian Federal Police technique aimed at minimising smoke and environmental damage, Meas Vyrith said.
Cambodia destroyed 35 tonnes of the oil in 2007.
By Prak Chan Thul
January 27, 2010