Police in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday night busted a group of local pirates. They estimate they have foiled a racket that has persisted for at least eight years.
Five members of the gang Nguyen Quang Dung, 34, Nguyen Tan Quyen, 40, Huynh Van Lam, 40, Bui Quang Hiep, 42 and Pham Trung, 54 were caught while their leader Bui Quang Hoang, 44, remains at large.
A man identified as N.T.G., 24, was robbed on Tuesday and told that he would be robbed again every time he returned to Thu Duc District.
G. had reported the case to police who decided to follow him to ensure his safety.
Only six members of the 11 person gang accosted G.'s boat on a river in Thu Duc District. A squad of three police speedboats gave chase for an hour. They scooped up five of the crooks as they bailed, one-by-one from the fleeing vessel.
Since early 2010, the police have received reports from ship owners about them being attacked and robbed by a gang led by "Danh," Hoang's nickname.
Sailors who fought back were assaulted; their boats were vandalized, police found.
Up until now, police say, fear of retaliation had prevented victims for seeking help. Fishermen have been paying protection money to the pirates for years, police estimate.
The gang took their money and oil to sell to Nguyen Thi Tuyet, 54, for around VND11,000 (US$0.58) a liter. Tuyet was arrested on Friday.
The suspects in custody told police they robbed at least five boats every day, most of them carrying diesel oil to Thu Duc Thermo-Electric Plant.
Some of the gang members have been doing this for nearly 20 years.