Vietnamese police shot dead a suspected heroin smuggler at the Laos border Sunday night after efforts to stop a 28-strong gang turned into a gun battle.
An officer from Son La Province in Vietnam’s northern mountains said his unit is looking for the other members of the gang after seizing four guns and nearly 53 kilograms of heroin.
The police team, including officers from the Ministry of Public Security, was guarding the area when the 28 armed men crossed the border.
When they found they were under ambush, some of them fired at the police.
Tran Anh Tuan, director of Son La police, said his team was "forced” to fight back and brought down one of the adversaries. But the others escaped.
It is not clear if the men were Laotian or Vietnamese.
The police said drug smuggling from Laos to Vietnam has intensified of late, and smugglers try to counter the increasing police presence by arming themselves. Private firearm ownership is a crime in Vietnam.
A similar gun fight with 25 drug smugglers from Laos last July ended with an officer and five of the smugglers being killed. More than 35.6 kilograms of heroin were seized.
The Penal Code is severe on drug smuggling and selling.
Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face death. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other drugs is also punishable by death.