Cambodia: Distilleries make ‘ecstasy’ by boiling out rare tree oil & it’s harming streams

Authorities, working with conservationists, have raided and closed  several ‘ecstasy oil’ distilleries in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.  The distilleries posed a threat to the region’s rich biological  diversity, reports Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the conservation group involved in the operation.

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“The factories had been set up to distill ‘sassafras oil’; produced by
boiling the roots and the trunk of the exceptionally rare Mreah Prew
Phnom trees and exported to neighbouring countries,” said FFI. “The
oil is used in the production of cosmetics, but can also be used as a
precursor chemical in the altogether more sinister process of
producing MDMA – more commonly known as ecstasy.

The distillation process not only threatens Mreah Prew Phnom trees, but damages the surrounding forest ecosystem. Producing sassafras oil is illegal in Cambodia.” The raids followed a month-long investigation by FFI and the Ministry of Environment which turned up several newly built sassafras factories run by Vietnamese syndicates in Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary. The sassafras oil is usually smuggled to Thailand or Vietnam.

“The re-emergence of the sassafras factories in Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is of enormous concern to us,” Tim Wood, FFI Field Coordinator at Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, said. “Not only are we faced with the prospect that the oil may be used for producing illicit drugs, but the factories have a very destructive impact on the fragile habitats and ecosystems in the sanctuary.

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Comments (1)

XTCNovember 3rd, 2009 at 7:15 am

MMMMMMMM………….. Sweet sassafras…

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