Taiwanese man caught as Vietnam breaks international drug ring

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A Taiwanese man considered an important link in a deadly drug trafficking case has been arrested, Vietnamese police said Wednesday.

A Qian was arrested in the south central province of Ninh Thuan as he was about to receive nearly seven kilograms of heroine from two Laotians, Khamseng Vichitvongsa, 52, and Vong Oudom Doungchanh, 31, police said.

The drug was carried into Vietnam via Laos through the Nam Can border gate in the northern province of Nghe An early this month. It was slated to be given to A Qian in Binh Thuan Province, police said.

The plan went bust on April 9 when police killed Khamseng Vichitvongsa in Ninh Thuan after he shot two police officers. Duongchanh is still at large, but the drugs they were carrying to A Qian were seized.

Investigators said that A Qian and the Laotians were involved in a ring led by a man in Thailand. The group was trafficking drugs from the "golden triangle," encompassing parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, through Thailand to Laos, then Vietnam before its final destination in Taiwan.

Le Thanh Liem, deputy head of the Drug Crime Investigation Department at the Ministry of Public Security, said police began tracking the ring in August last year.

The group had hid drugs in the tires and cargo areas and were heavily armed, Liem said.

Not knowing what vehicle the culprits were driving, investigators acted on other intelligence and staked out the alleged drop-off point on April 5. They installed cameras in the areas and spiked the street to break the traffickers' tires, police said.

Liem said cooperation between Vietnamese police and their overseas counterparts has been going very well during the investigation. Thai police have stepped in to hunt other alleged members of the ring.

Investigators from the Ministry of Public Security are cooperating with Ninh Thuan Police and Interpol to investigate the case further.

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