Vietnam sentences 7 heroin smugglers to death

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Trang A Chu (front row, in civilian clothes), the kingpin a massive drug trafficking ring in northern Vietnam, is tried with his 25 members in Hoa Binh Province between May 20 and June 6. Photo credit: An Ninh Thu Do online newspaper
A court in northern Vietnam handed down seven death penalties, seven life sentences, and other jail terms totalling 232 years to 26 defendants at a drug trial that wrapped up on Friday.
The defendants were found guilty of trafficking more than 628 kilograms of heroin and 1,400 synthetic drug tablets from the northern provinces of Son La and Hoa Binh to Hanoi and surrounding provinces between 2004 and 2009.
They were convicted by the People's Court of Hoa Binh Province of drug smuggling, resisting officers in discharge of duty, illegal possession of military weapons, and harboring and concealing fugitives.
Kingpin Trang A Chu, 37, was among seven people who received death sentences at the trial, which began in May 20.
Chu was arrested in May 2011 when he was traffiking 17.6 kilograms of heroin and 400 synthetic drug tablets from Son La Province to Hanoi.
Chu's car was flagged down by traffic police in Hoa Binh’s Tan Lac District. He pretended to follow the officer's orders by slowing down and engaging his turn signal, before suddenly speeding up in an attempt to flee.
Police positioned down the road managed to flatten his car’s wheel with spike-strips.
The man continued to drive on flat tires for some 300 meters before crashing into three police cars in an attempted suicide.
One officer died at the scene, and another was injured, according to prosecutors.
Further investigation led police to arrest other members of Chu’s gang, including a tax official in nearby Cao Bang Province, but four suspects are still at large.
Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.
The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.
In January, a court in the northern province of Quang Ninh handed down death sentences to 30 out of 89 defendants in one of Vietnam's largest drug trafficking ever.
The defendants brought a total of over 1.47 tons of heroin, 35 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and over 323,400 methamphetamine tablets from Laos to Vietnam and from Vietnam to China between 2006 and 2012.

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