Major drug gang arrested in Vietnam city

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Vo Thi Ngoc Hanh (left) and Tran Thi Thanh Tam were arrested after their drug gang was busted in Ho Chi Minh City December 14. Photo courtesy of VietNamNet

Police in Ho Chi Minh City busted a major drug gang Saturday after two months of surveillance, seizing almost 10 kilograms of addictive substances.

Vo Thi Ngoc Hanh, 42, and Tran Thi Thanh Tam, 40, the two alleged kingpins, were arrested along with Trinh Van Kha and Huynh Thi Hoa, all related to each other, and Le Thi Xuan, a dealer.

The police found more than 2.3 kg of heroin at Hanh and Tam's houses, besides 284 grams of meth and 6.5 kg of a white powder that has been sent to be tested.

Police noticed the gang's operations in alleys around Tran Khac Chan Street, District 1, in October, a month after they started, and were keeping an eye on it ever since.

The gang was very discreet, making it hard to collect evidence, they said.

Hanh provided the drugs to Tam, who got others to directly sell to pushers, including Xuan and a woman named Mai in District 7.

The dealers would then sell the drugs to users in outlying districts and neighboring provinces.

The gang sold up to almost a kilogram of heroin a day, making a profit of 12-14 percent or VND40-75 million ($1,900-3,555).

Hanh bought the heroin at around VND530,000 ($25) a gram, but the police did not disclose her sources.

They are investigating further.

Drugs have become rife in the city this year, they admitted, with 32 kg of heroin, 26 kg of meth, 2,000 ecstasy pills, and two kilograms of cocaine seized so far, twice the amount caught last year.

The city not only has a lot of users itself but is also a supplier to the southern and central regions as well as a transit point for international trafficking.

Thus, every time a drug gang is busted in the city, prices in other places would surge, the police said.

In Vietnam, those convicted of possessing 100 grams of heroin or cocaine or 300 grams of other drugs can be sentenced to death.

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