Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, 54, among 30 people who received death penalties for trafficking drugs in the northern province of Quang Ninh on January 20 / PHOTO: PHAM HAI SAM
A court in the northern province of Quang Ninh handed down death sentences to 30 out of 89 defendants in one of Vietnam's largest drug trafficking ever on Monday.
Prosecutors recommended last week the death penalty for 34 defendants.
"This was Vietnam's largest ever trial in terms of defendants, the number of death penalties given out and the amount of heroin involved," presiding judge Ngo Duc was quoted by AFP as saying.
The provincial People's Court also jailed 13 people for life, nine for 20 years, one for 18 years, nine for 15 years, and 17 others for between two and 13 years.
Ten others got between nine month suspended sentences and 14 year imprisonment for charges like illegal business activities, forging documents and bribery.
According to the indictment, the defendants brought a total of over 1.47 tons of heroin, 35 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and over 323,400 methamphetamine tablets from Laos to Vietnam and from Vietnam to China.
Prosecutors said they belonged to four rings which were busted following the arrest of Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, 54, who had been bringing illegal narcotics from Laos into Vietnam since 2006, in April 2012.
The first ring operated in Laos and was led by Sa Van Cau, 40, who remains at large, according to investigators.
The second ring was led by Nguyen Hung Dung, 35, and Song A Lau, 37, to send drugs across the country for consumption.
Nguyen Thanh Tuan and his wife, Nguyen Thanh Hien, both 32, were in charge of the third ring, which smuggled drugs from Vietnam to China.
The fourth ring, led by Nguyen Thi Hoan and Nguyen Thi Doan, also brought drugs to China
All the leaders plus Ngoc got the death penalty.
Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.
The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.
Vietnam officially switched from the firing squad to lethal injection in November 2011. But it was not until last August that the country executed its first prisoner with the new method due to the unavailability of stipulated drugs.
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