Nguyen Ngoc Duy, Nguyen Thanh Liem and Nguyen Tan Long
Police in Lam Dong Province has rescued three children who had been forced into bonded labor at an illegal gold mine.
Nguyen Tan Long, Nguyen Thanh Liem and Nguyen Ngoc Duy, all 15 years old were rescued in Lac Duong District on Tuesday, where they said they had been forced to work for more than 15 hours a day.
Police took the boys to Ho Chi Minh City for a medical examination before returning them to their homes in Khanh Hoa Province.
On April 9, investigators from the Ministry of Public Security received a letter from Nguyen Ngoc Hanh saying that his son, Nguyen Tan Long, and his two schoolmates had been kidnapped.
The family claimed that they had searched the area for days, to no avail.
Finally, the family received a call from Long informing them that the trio had been sent to Binh Duong Province. Later, Long called and told his family they were in a forest of Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands.
The family also received an anonymous call asking them to pay a ransom of VND300 million (US$14,500) to get their son back.
A subsequent police investigation revealed that the boys had not been kidnapped.
On April 9, the trio had determined to drop out of school to find jobs. They sold a pair of bicycles for VND600,000 ($29) to fund their trip.
After taking a bus to the Mien Dong Bus Station in HCMC, two xe om (motorbike taxi) drivers told them they could help them find jobs and brought them to Thu Duc District.
A man there took the boys to the headquarters of the Duc Hoang Limited Company, a labor agency in Lam Dong Province.
Once there, police say the boys signed a contract with Vu Van Huu, the owner of an illegal gold mine in Lieng Bong Village and agreed to work for VND1.5 million ($72) a month.
Police say investigations are going on.