Cops in Vietnam continue to crack down on gangs of smugglers, robbers

By By Dam Huy – Pham Hai Sam, Thanh Nien News

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Le Thi Thuc, 40, being held at a Hai Phong police station as the officers weigh 13 kilograms of meth and ecstasy pills. She and her two male accomplices were caught with the drugs on August 17, 2014. Photo: Lam Giang Le Thi Thuc, 40, being held at a Hai Phong police station as the officers weigh 13 kilograms of meth and ecstasy pills. She and her two male accomplices were caught with the drugs on August 17, 2014. Photo: Lam Giang


Police throughout Vietnam say they're cracking down on gangs of increasingly bold criminals who appear undeterred by the nation's draconian drug laws.
Hai Phong police arrested Le Thi Thuc, Dao Truong Tho and Nguyen Ngoc Hung, with 13 kilograms of meth and ecstasy pills on Sunday.
Hung, 38 and Tho, 25, his brother-in-law were wanted for drug trafficking. Thuc, 40, reportedly lives in China and smuggled the drugs into Vietnam.
Police also seized more than VND20 million (around US$1,000), eight cell phones and other evidence.
City police spent the previous week rounding up the four members of another drug smuggling syndicate that attempted to smuggle three kilograms of meth from Cat Bi airport to Ho Chi Minh City on August 7.
On August 15, the same officers cut power to a whole neighborhood in Kien An District to arrest drug kingpin Vu Dinh Chien.
Police said they'd heard that Chien had set booby traps (electrified metal doors and mines) around his compound.
The kingpin was caught selling 4.1 kilograms of drugs to Hoang Thanh Thuy, 22, of nearby Tuyen Quang Province. Police also seized two guns and ammunition at the scene.
The 39-year-old was known as a reckless criminal with broad connections to the underworld. The officers said he usually traveled with a loaded gun.
Chien reportedly disguised his deals as legitimate electronics sales and had his subordinates hide drugs in speakers, stereos and other devices. 
The gang alternated between smuggling drugs by car and boat to foil investigators.

A photo provided by Hai Phong Police shows officers escorting Vu Dinh Chien out of his drug den after blacking out a neighborhood to disable his electrified booby traps

Chien told the police he's pulled off many successful shipments.
He said he drew on a wide network to acquire recipes and ingredients for producing MDMA and methamphetamine.
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.
Policymakers are left to wonder how much these heavy-handed punishments sentencing guidelines deter the criminals who are arrested, almost weekly, moving, making and taking larger and larger quantities of drugs throughout the country.
Ho Chi Minh City's speed problem
Officers in Ho Chi Minh City are calling for victims of a gang of meth-fueled strong armed robbers to come forward and help with their investigation.
Luu Van Loc, the 22-year-old gang leader, and eight members ranging from 18 to 31 years of age were arrested early this month. Most had a history of robbery convictions.
Loc was caught while preying on victims on the back of his teenage co-conspirator's motorbike on August 5. The ringleader allegedly snatched expensive items while his driver, Vo Tri Hieu, 18, prowled around the intersection of Nguyen Tri Phuong and An Duong Vuong streets in District 5.
Police began investigating the gang in April after multiple reports of injurious robberies began coming out of in Districts 5 and 10.
The gang allegedly operated out of a rented house in District 5 and always committed their crimes while high on meth.
Police say they fought fearlessly with a group of officers who once tried to stop them.
When they were finally arrested, police waited two to seven hours for them to sober up before taking their statements.
The gang members said they'd snatched gold necklaces, cell phones and iPads (among other things) and pawned the spoils of their crimes at a shop run by Nguyen Van Cuong in an alley off Su Van Hanh Street in District 10. Cuong reportedly knew he was buying stolen goods and paid the gang far below market value for the items.
He allegedly stayed in regular phone contact with the gang throughout the day and requested specific items.
The gang members told police they used the proceeds of their crimes to buy more meth.

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