Tobacco smuggling meets high demand in southern Vietnam

TN News

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Smuggling of tobacco products into Vietnam in the southern region has not reduced despite crackdowns, according to the HCMC market management division.


Last year 68 tobacco smuggling and trading cases were busted in Ho Chi Minh City, confiscating 48,696 packets, 4,100 less than the previous year, the office said, adding the number of cases has also gone down.


However, tobacco smuggling was still "complicated" in the city's districts adjacent to provinces like Tay Ninh and Long An, in terms of scales and methods compared to previous years, officials said.


An investigation by Thanh Nien reporters found that smugglers were using various methods to bring tobacco trafficked from Cambodia into HCMC and Mekong Delta provinces.


Located in Cambodia's Ta Keo Province and adjacent to Chau Doc Town in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, the Go Ta Mau Market has for long been a good choice for smugglers to transit their goods.


A local told Thanh Nien that almost every day a great amount of foreign tobacco ranging from low to hi-end products are brought from Phnom Penh and Kongpong Cham City into the market, from where it would be smuggled into Vietnam by road or river.


The tobacco is usually hidden under the high floors of shops built of wood at the market. Once in a while, a group of young people would come into the shops and go out with packages of tobacco on their back, heading for Chau Doc's Vinh Nguon Commune.


One of the people hired to bring tobacco into Vietnam said: "Each of us carries over 500 packages (600 packets each) on average per day."


With Tet (Lunar New Year festival) approaching, they are busier, carrying tobacco day and night to meet their hirers' demands, he added.


Another one told Thanh Nien they are confident about carrying tobacco by day because some one has already "taken care" of the routes.


After being brought into Vietnam, a group of people would carry them by motorbike to other localities.


Each person carries at least 1,200 packets of tobacco and then drives at breakneck speed. On their way, they are informed about the presence of police on their cellphones, Thanh Nien found.


The porters also tie tobacco packets around their body and cover them under oversized clothes and take them by buses. Sometimes the bus assistants also join the business.


According to officials, local high taxes on tobacco is one of reasons for the product to be smuggled into the country. Since 2008 Vietnam has taxed tobacco at 65 percent for special consumption, and 10 percent for value added tax.


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