Police seek charges against 3 Taiwanese in 229kg heroin haul

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Some of the 600 bricks of heroin that were discovered in an aircraft container on display at the Criminal Investigation Bureau building in Taipei Sunday / PHOTO: AFP
Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security is seeking charges against three Taiwanese men for allegedly smuggling 229 kilograms of heroin from Vietnam to Taiwan by air last November.
Sung Yuan Hsuan, 34, Pan Po Chung, 40, and Chen Kuo Shun, 37, will be charged with “illegally transporting drugs,” in absentia, as they reman at large, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported on Thursday.
Vietnamese investigators believe that the men met at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and hid 600 bricks of heroin, smothered in chocolate, in 12 stereo speakers.
Investigators said they contracted a couple of local companies to send the consignment to Taiwan on a China Airlines cargo aircraft on November 16.
The package cleared customs at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, but was seized the next day, at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport.
Cong An Nhan Dan (People’s Police) newspaper quoted an investigative report as saying that the trio visited HCMC on October 15 as tourists and bought the speakers at a local store with the assistance of a Vietnamese interpreter and tour guide.
Then, according to investigators, the men brought the speakers to their hotel rooms.
Chen left the next day, but two other Taiwanese joined Sung and Pan on October 22.
At the end of October, Sung contacted Wu Pin Chieh, director of Air Sea WorldWide Vietnam Logistics Co. Ltd, claiming that he planned to found a company in Vietnam, but he needed to send some goods back to Taiwan first.
He asked Wu to book a flight on China Airlines for him so he could send the consignment to Taiwan on November 16.
Air Sea Worldwide then booked the shipment with Korchina Logistics Co. Ltd, a representative of China Airlines in Vietnam.
Wu’s company also contracted Le Hoa Trading and Forwarding Co. Ltd in HCMC's District 1 to complete export procedures for the consignment.
Le Hoa then hired another company called Long Van to act as the exporter.
On November 15, the speakers were sent to the warehouse of Tan Son Nhat Cargo Services Co. Ltd, which provides cargo handling services for international flights operating out of the airport.
The consignment was labeled “highly magnetic,” and was automatically sent through the “green channel” – a category for goods sent by companies with clean records, not subject to customs scrutiny.
Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau, which discovered the shipment, said the narcotics had a street value of US$300 million.
Following the confiscation, the bureau's officers arrested seven individuals they said they'd been monitoring for over a year.
Among them was one suspect surnamed Wong, who had visited Vietnam and China several times, apparently as part of an illegal drug ring.
Wong worked for a cargo transportation company and was familiar with transportation channels, while other suspects worked with Taiwanese suspects residing in China, the bureau said.

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