Officers from the Ministry of Public Security say that ten suspects built a violent timber monopoly in Vietnam using extortion and help from friends in high places.
The 10 will be detained for four months while the police further investigate them for "extortion."
Nguyen Ngoc Minh, 54, director of Dai An Company was arrested last week along with Nguyen Thanh Hung, 61, director of Dai An’ subsidiary Thanh Hung Company, and Minh’s daughter and son-in-law.
Last year, Minh personally received a award from the Prime Minister and a medal for good labor practices from the President.
Hung and Quach Van Loc (another of the 10 suspects) have been charged with “illegally storing military weapons.”
On August 13, more than 100 police officers stormed into the two companies’ campuses in Bac Ninh Province near Hanoi and seized six guns, a grenade and an untold number of bullets.
Dozens of forest rangers arrived to check the companies’ warehouses for smuggled and protected wood. Several cars were sent to the scene to cart away evidence.
The Ministry of Public Security opened an investigation into the Dai An Company more than a year ago, after local wood traders complained of having to pay protection money to the firm.
Di An was established in 2000 to trade luxury wood decorations, furniture as well as invest in the construction and property markets.
The company began wholesaling timber and soon came to dominate the entire northern market, winning various certificates of merit for “excellent” and “outstanding” business practices from the Bac Ninh authorities.
Police now say Dai An’s “broad connections” and deep pockets discouraged other investors in the field.
Thanh Nien sources said Minh and Hung conspired with notorious gangsters to create an extortion racket that targeted local timber traders by offering "protection" services.
Hung is an ex-convict who came to be regarded as a successful businessman in his new role.
The owner of several luxury cars, Hung was eventually elected chief of Phu Khe Thuong village.