US citizen caught at Vietnam airport with giant heroin haul

TN News

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The US Embassy in Hanoi has confirmed that a US citizen was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly attempting to transport 1.1 kgs of heroin an amount which qualifies him to receive the death penalty from Vietnam to Australia.

"We are in contact with the individual and will provide consular assistance if requested," US embassy spokesperson Thomas Tanner told Thanh Nien News via email Thursday.

He declined to comment further, citing the Privacy Act.

Customs officials found the drugs in the suitcase of the US national of Vietnamese origin, identified only as D. Jason, 40, Tuesday at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport before he could board his Sydney-bound flight.

Further investigations are underway, the police said.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws: those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin may be sentenced to death.

The heroin seized from D. Jason. Photo courtesy of the Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Last October, Vietnam sentenced a 61-year-old Filipina to death after she was caught smuggling five kilograms (11 pounds) of methamphetamine into the country.

In June 2012, a Ho Chi Minh City court handed down the death penalty to a 23-year-old female student from Thailand for trafficking three kilograms of methamphetamine from Benin to Vietnam.

Death penalty statistics are not released in Vietnam, but the punishment is handed down most frequently to those convicted of murder or drug-trafficking. 

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