Nigerian gets life sentence for trafficking drugs into Vietnam

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A court in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday handed down a life sentence to a Nigerian for trafficking drugs, VnExpress reported.


The HCMC People's Court convicted Ben Blessed, 31, of leading two other Nigerians and several Vietnamese women to smuggle nearly 700 grams of heroin from foreign countries into Vietnam.


The court sentenced Anyanwu Chima Stanley, 33, to 30 years in prison and Ozogu John, 31, received 20-year jail term for the same charges, according to the newswire.


John's Vietnamese girlfriend, 34-year-old Pham Thi Thanh Trang, received a jail term of 20 years for her part in the drug smuggling.


The court ordered them to pay between VND20-50 million (US$972.29-2,430) in fines as well, the news source reported.


According to the indictment, Blessed hired Trang and several other women to transport heroin into Vietnam, and then bring it to China. The women smuggled the drugs in suitcases, sandals and notebooks.


On July 21, 2009 the Ministry of Public Security's drug crime investigation department caught Pham Thi Thanh Trang, 33, carrying four packets of heroin hidden in a pair of sandals and a notebook at a hotel in Binh Tan District.


Trang told police that John and Blessed gave her the sandals and the notebook to give to another woman, who would bring them to another country.


Also that day police found another pair of sandals containing heroin at the place of Stanley, whom Blessed hired to hide the drugs in sandals.


According to VnExpress, the trial, started last Thursday, ended with over 50 police officers mobilized to keep security as the foreign defendants acted violently after hearing the verdict.


Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin are eligible for death sentence.

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