Vietnam sentences Aussie to 15 years for drug smuggling attempt

By Ngoc Le, Thanh Nien News

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De Santos Kevin William, a 51-year-old Australian, at trial in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10, 2014. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to smuggle narcotics out of the country. Photo: Ngoc Le De Santos Kevin William, a 51-year-old Australian, at trial in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10, 2014. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to smuggle narcotics out of the country. Photo: Ngoc Le

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A Ho Chi Minh City court on Wednesday sentenced an Australian national to 15 years in jail for attempting to smuggle nearly 900 grams of narcotics out of the country last year.
The man, who has been identified in the local media as Kevin William De Santos, 51, tied two bags of powder around his thighs before attempting to board a plane bound for Australia at Tan Son Nhat International Airport on August 9 of 2013. The powder tested positive for amphetamines, but officials have not specified which kind.
Customs officials detected the narcotics while William was checking in.
He was charged with "dangerous" drug smuggling, but received a relatively light sentence from the city People’s Court, which cited his fragile mental state. 
De Santos was found to suffer from depression and other mental illness, they said.
De Santos said he worked for a property firm in Australia and had been using meth for a long time.
He claimed to have been smuggling drugs to repay a 2,000 AUD (US$1,825) debt he owed to a man named Benkovich.
Benkovich allegedly introduced him to a man called "Black Duck" who promised to cover his debt if he agreed to fetch some drugs from Vietnam.
De Santos agreed to the deal and was given travel money and papers to enter Vietnam.
He arrived in HCMC on August 3, 2013.
"Duck" and a group of Australians met him at the airport and moved him through a series of hotels during his time in the the city before returning him to the airport where he was arrested.
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.

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