Cambodian police arrested 23 Nigerian men suspected of drug trafficking as authorities continued to hunt for the ringleader and other suspects, an official said Friday.
Police Maj. Born Sam Ath said the 23 suspects were arrested in separate operations Wednesday after authorities received information from a Cambodian woman about their activities.
Three of the suspects were arrested while traveling on the road in the capital, he said, adding that officers found 1.5 pounds (0.7 kilograms) of heroin hidden in a bag of clothes.
Police interrogated the three suspects and later arrested 20 others, Born Sam Ath said.
Investigators continued to search for the group's leader and others involved, he said. He declined to comment on the identity of the leader and the number of those still on the run.
The suspects were held at a police station and have not been charged officially, the police official said.
Earlier this month, the authorities torched nearly three tons of an herb used to produce "herbal ecstasy" as part of a campaign to wipe out designer drugs.
The bonfire destroyed ephedra, used to make "herbal ecstasy" pills that have been blamed for deaths in the United States and elsewhere, as well as another ton of the chemical thionyl chloride, which is used to make methamphetamine. "Herbal ecstasy" typically refers to a combination of stimulants _ often including ephedra.
Southeast Asia has long been a major producer and exporter of heroin, and in recent years it has also become a major source of stimulant-type drugs such as methamphetamine.
Myanmar is a leading exporter of both heroin and methamphetamine, which are smuggled into and through nearby countries. Cambodia has increasingly become a transit route for drug smugglers.