Vietnam customs find drug precursor in gifts sent to Australia

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Ho Chi Minh City customs officers Sunday handed over to the narcotics police 17 kilograms of substances used to produce drugs but labeled as gift packages to be delivered to Australia.

They checked a first batch of "suspicious" gifts on July 8 and found what were ostensibly 12 boxes of Trung Nguyen coffee and two packs of black sesame.

They took samples for testing and all tested positive for drugs.


Subsequent tests by the Ministry of Public Security showed eight kilograms of black powder (of coffee and sesame) to be pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in cold medicines but also a methamphetamine precursor.


Four days later customs officials seized another batch containing Trung Nguyen coffee, red bean powder, Lipton tea, and dried fruits.


Tests found six kilograms of pseudoephedrine in the powdered products.


On July 17 another three kilograms of pseudoephedrine were found in a third batch of gifts containing Aji Ngon seasoning and powder used to make banh xeo (sizzling cake).


The officers said the packages had been sent by a resident in District 8 to their relative in Australia.


The 17 kilograms of pseudoephedrine are worth an estimated VND15 billion (US$708,000), they said.


Further investigation is continuing.

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