Drug crackdown pushes courts and prisons to breaking point

A new crackdown on drugs has netted more than one thousand drug users and dealers throughout the country. But can crowded prisons and busy courts keep up? Nguyen Thy Yem and her husband, Bouy Thanh Men, have been using drugs since they married a decade ago. Together, they do meth and heroin in the backstreets of the capital. But Thanh Men insists that he and his wife are users, not dealers. Nonetheless, his wife now faces drug-dealing charges after being arrested on January 10. She and four others scooped up in the raid in Chbar Ampov district are just a few of the many recently snared in a new nationwide crackdown on drugs. She is also one of the many languishing in pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison. In the first two weeks of the year, authorities say they have arrested more than a thousand dealers and drug users. While analysts and government officials recognise a rise in drug use, they say the recent explosion in arrests could exacerbate two already thorny problems: prison overcrowding and a backlog of drug cases stuck in the courts.

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