Three overseas Vietnamese could face drug charges

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The Ministry of Public Security said Thursday it was pursuing drug trafficking charges against three overseas Vietnamese from Australia arrested last year.

The Supreme People’s Procuracy is considering ratifying charges police investigators have proposed, the ministry said.

On July 11 last year, police from the ministry and officials from the Ho Chi Minh City customs agency noticed 47-year-old Chu Hoang

Mai was acting suspicious before she departed Vietnam for Australia on Vietnam Airlines flight VN781 at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, said investigators.

Under police questioning, Mai confessed that she was hiding 215 grams of heroin in her anus.

On the same day, another police squad raided Hai Long 2 Hotel on Ly Tu Trong Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 and found two other overseas Vietnamese from Australia in possession of 1.5 kilograms of heroin.

Trang Bich Phuong, 29, and Lam Mong Chinh, 26, were promptly arrested, police said.

All three arrestees confessed they were hired by people in Australia to carry the drug, which had been supplied by others in HCMC.

Mai said a man named Ba whom she met at the Crow Casino in Australia in November 2007 had suggested that she carry heroin from Vietnam to Australia. He paid her between 7,000 Australian dollars (US$5,567) and 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,950) per trip, she said.

On the day she was arrested, Mai had received three packs of heroin from a man named Bay when she was staying at Trung Mai Hotel on Nguyen Trai Street. The man instructed Mai to put the drug in condoms and use lubricant to insert them in her anus. He also told her to take medicine to prevent a bowel movement, she said.

Chinh and Phuong made a similar claim, purporting to have been offered the job by a man named Chu in an Australian casino.

On May 28 last year, they met a man named Chu Mi Tom in Vietnam to receive 20 packages of heroin before being arrested.

Chinh confessed that he had successfully carried 18 packages of heroin to Australia since April last year.

Colonel Le Thanh Liem from the ministry’s investigative police unit said the drug might have originated in the Golden Triangle region, which overlaps the mountains of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Investigators said the culprits were part of a larger ring of international drug traffickers.

They said members of the ring often visited casinos in Australia to hire losing gamblers to carry the drug.

Police also said they have been working with Australia Federal Police on the case.

Reported by Dam Huy

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