Vietnam police seize contraband from China outside port after tip-off

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Ho Chi Minh City police and market management officers find goods not listed in the invoice in a container shipment they seized December 30. Photo by Dam Huy

Police in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday began to check 10 containers imported from China following a tip-off and discovered that they could contain many more times the volume and value of goods declared by the importers.

The invoice claimed that the 14-ton cargo, which arrived at a city port December 24, contained ornamental lamps and 'lucky money' envelopes to be given to children during the Lunar New Year.

But the police found the first two containers having a large quantity of electronic firecrackers, cloth, sewing machines, and many boxes of an unidentified white powder. All kinds of firecrackers are banned in Vietnam.

A police officer, who asked to remain unnamed, said all 10 containers would be checked since "quite enough evidence has been gathered to show signs of trafficking and some of the products are banned."

A city market manager involved in the inspection said it would take at least five days to evaluate the cargo and their value, but the first two containers were worth billions of dong.

The invoice values the shipment at a mere VND100 million (US$4,740), and the consignment was cleared after two customs officials, Nguyen Phuoc Tuong and Bui Anh Tuan, checked part of it December 30 and found it to be accurate.

The containers were stopped the same night by the police just outside the port and were taken to a warehouse belonging to the city Market Management Department.

A police source said they had been tipped off.

The officer said they decided to open the cargo after Tran Thi Thu Sang and Ho Sam Dung, directors of the two private companies which had imported the cargo, failed to respond to summonses.

The police found their offices closed.

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