Inspectors seek charges against Vietnam-Australia smuggling ring

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Inspectors from the Ministry of Public Security have asked prosecutors to charge five people, including a famous model, for their involvement in a ring smuggling electronics and foreign currencies from Australia into Vietnam.

In a report published Saturday, VnExpress quoted inspectors as saying that more than 30 flight attendants were also found involved in the ring led by 36-year-old Do Thanh Lam.

However, since there was not enough evidence to charge the attendants who brought goods for Lam with smuggling, inspectors proposed the state-owned Vietnam Airlines to punish them in accordance with aviation industry's regulations instead, the newswire reported.

They also asked the Ministry of Finance to consider punishments against several customs officials for failing to detect thousands of smuggled electronics.

In the meantime, inspectors sought smuggling charges against Nguyen Duc Vu, a manager from the customer department at the Tan Son Nhat Operation Control Center, and Nguyen Minh Hoang, Lam's brother-in-law, the report said.

Le Xuan Vinh Thuy, a male model and actor, and Thai Anh Tien, a flight attendant, faced charges for doing business illegally.

Lam, however, who has been wanted since the ring was busted, is still at large, according to VnExpress.

Inspectors said that since October, 2008, Lam, who has lived in Sydney since 2006, had joined hands with several overseas Vietnamese to illegally bring around 400 packages of Australian dollars and electronics into Ho Chi Minh City before they were busted last June.

The goods were transported to Lam's relatives in Vietnam, including Hoang, by flight attendants, inspectors said.

Thuy, meanwhile, was found importing 75 electronic devices, mainly Iphones and Apple Macbooks, worth over VND900 million, (US$43,200) from Lam to resell to another person in HCMC, VnExpress reported.

According to inspectors, they discovered the ring when they were investigating a case in which a group of Vietnamese living in Sydney, including Lam, allegedly stole 182 Apple Macbooks at the Sydney airport to transport them into Vietnam.

The investigation was launched as per request from the Australian Federal Police.

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