Couple arrested in Australia for possible precursor smuggling

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A married couple from Vietnam has been arrested in Australia for allegedly smuggling some 12 kilograms of a chemical that could be used to make illicit drugs, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department.

HCMC customs chief Nguyen Thi Thu Huong said Australian customs apprehended the couple, whose identities were not revealed, on October 12 following a tip-off from the department.

She said Vietnamese customs officers found the substance hidden in chili powder packets in the couple's suitcases when they boarded a flight to Australia at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport one day before.

However, the officers let them go as there is no law against the substance in Vietnam, Huong said without revealing details about the chemical.

While such chemicals are often used to produce methamphetamine and other synthetic illicit drugs, they are also used to manufacture legal drugs.

Many countries have been advised by international agencies like the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to deal with the problem by identifying frequently-abused substances, and implement various measures to control them, especially regarding their import and export.

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