Latest raid on ‘Ecstasy Oil Factories’ in Cambodia

FFI has led a recent operation, to destroy 18 illegal safrole oil factories in the remote Cardamom Mountains of southwest Cambodia.

The operation was coordinated by FFI Cambodia, Wildlife Alliance and involved Ministry of Environment rangers, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and the Royal Gendarmerie of Cambodia.

After several months of patrols and aerial surveillance, a joint strike force was launched to destroy the factories in the remote Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary. These factories illegally extract oil from the rare Mreah Prov tree, which is protected by law in Cambodia.

The extraction of the oil is an extremely damaging process: four Mreah Prov trees are needed to make just one drum of oil and large amounts of firewood from many other rainforest trees is required to fuel the long distillation process.

The oil has legitimate uses in the chemical industry as a fragrance agent and in the manufacturing of pyrethroid based insecticides, but can be used more lucratively as a precursor in the manufacture of MDMA—more commonly known as ecstasy.

“This latest enforcement action is part of increasing efforts to protect Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary and has delivered a heavy blow to those criminal elements that seek to exploit and destroy Cambodia’s forests for personal gain,” said Tim Wood, FFI Wildlife Sanctuary Technical Advisor.