Hanoi police unveil biggest heroin haul

By Ha An - Nam Anh, Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Van Trinh, 49, was allegedly the mastermind of a major drung smuggling ring in northern provinces. Photo: Ha Nam Nguyen Van Trinh, 49, was allegedly the mastermind of a major drung smuggling ring in northern provinces. Photo: Ha Nam

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Hanoi police have arrested seven people in a major drug smuggling ring and seized about 35 kilograms of heroin, the largest drug bust ever conducted in Vietnam's capital.
Police on Monday announced the case for the first time, revealing the arrests made on different occasions over the past year, which had been kept secret for investigation.
The initial arrests was made on August 24, 2013, targeting suspected gang leader Nguyen Van Trinh, 49, his girlfriend Le Thi Tham, 44, and his nephew Nguyen Duc Phuong.
Subsequent investigation led to the detainment of the sellers and buyers involved, including Luong Manh Duong, Vu Ngoc Hung and Giang A Dong in Son La Province and Nguyen Tien Thanh from Quang Ninh Province.
The case was open in May 2013 when drug crime police of Hanoi’s Long Bien District found Trinh, director of a trading company in Son La who had served time for drug smuggling, often came from his hometown in Son La to visit Tham’s house in Hanoi.
Trinh would depart from Tham's house, usually at night or during bad weathers, for several northern provinces.
Investigators later found Trinh and his nephew Phuong often carried some consignments from Son La to other provinces after transiting at Tham’s house.
On August 25, 2013, police raided Tham’s house and arrested the trio with 35 kilograms of heroin, with market value of about US$1 million. Police also confiscated US$24,400 and a car.
Long Bien District police then coordinated with the city police to expand investigation, which led to the arrests of four others between September 2013 and August 2014.
According to the police,  after being released from jail in 1997, Trinh set up a trading company to cover his drug smuggling and recruited his co-inmate Hung.
They have repeatedly bought drug from Dong in Son La. Duong was hired to trafficked the drug, hidden in produce, to Trinh's house, from where Trinh and his nephew transported to Tham’s house in Hanoi.
They sold the drug to Thanh in Quang Ninh, police said.
According to investigators, each ring member always carried along thousands of dollars in order to bribe the police when necessary.
Investigation are going on.
Another major drug bust was made on August 22 when Thai Nguyen police arrested two local men smuggling about 33 kilograms of heroin, the largest drug amount being seized in the northern province.
Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing/smuggling 100 grams of heroin or cocaine or 300 grams of other drugs face capital punishment.
Despite strict punishment, drug smuggling has reportedly increased recently with major heroin busts in northern provinces and methamphetamine smuggling in southern region.
Customs in Ho Chi Minh City have repeatedly found meth precursors being sent from Vietnam to Australia recently.
On Monday, customs officers found two kilograms of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient for producing methamphetamine, in a consignment bound for Australia.
The banned ingredient was packed and declared as palm sugar and being sent along with more than three kilograms of dried squid by a person in Binh Tan District as “gift” for a recipient abroad.
Earlier on August 19, the city customs also found another two kilograms of pseudoephedrine in an express parcel sent from Dong Nai Province to Australia. The consignment was also declared as gift of palm sugar.
In a similar case on August 13, customs officers of Da Nang International Airport seized more than two kilograms of ephedrine, a similar meth’s material, after opening a suspicious package sent from Da Nang to Australia.

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