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Economy

Cambodia and Laos casinos targeted for drug-trade money laundering

Investigators in Southeast Asia follow money trail from booming meth market

The once sleepy Cambodian resort town of Sihanoukville has been rapidly transformed in recent years -- including with the Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone -- through Chinese-led development projects. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

BANGKOK -- Anti-narcotic investigators are searching for signs of money laundering in the casinos that have spread across Sihanoukville, a Cambodian coastal city that has become a magnet for Chinese high-rollers, amid the booming methamphetamine market in Southeast Asia.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates the region's meth market -- Southeast Asia is the world's epicenter of the synthetic drug -- to be valued at $ 61.4 billion annually, more than double the Cambodian economy of $24 billion.

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