Ecstasy factories destroyed in Cambodian rainforests
PHNOM PENH, Nov. 20, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Ten ecstasy laboratories operated by local drug cartels were destroyed Wednesday in one of Cambodia's most impenetrable and remote jungle areas in the country's southwest Cardamom Mountains, according to a statement released Friday by Wildlife Alliance.
The raid was carried out by an anti-drug task force led by Wildlife Alliance and in close cooperation with forest rangers from Cambodia's armed services and Ministry of Environment.
"At least 35 tons of safrole oil, a main ingredient used in the methamphetamine production of ecstasy, could have been used to make over five million ecstasy pills with a street value of over 100 million U.S. dollars," according to local officials.
Wildlife Alliance-sponsored ranger team from Cambodia's Ministry of Environment and managed by Fauna and Flora International, came across the ecstasy labs several months ago during a routine foot patrol through Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, 200 miles northwest of Phnom Penh.
Wildlife Alliance Technical Advisor and former French Legionnaire, Eduard Lefter, who planned the complex and dangerous raid with Cambodian Forest Rangers, commented on the operation, saying "The mission was very difficult to organize and the conditions extremely tough. The mountain terrain and dense forest made a helicopter insertion virtually impossible, so we went in by foot."
According to Lefter, the team spent 12 days in the jungle battling leeches and the resulting wound infections, as well as skirting landmines which made forward progress extremely difficult. By the end of the mission much of Lefter's ranger teams were suffering from dehydration from dwindling water supplies.
The teams also carried explosive ordnance in the form of landmines, provided by the Cambodian Military, to destroy the ecstasy labs and safrole distillation equipment.
Friday, November 20, 2009 4:41 AM