A court in the southern province of Binh Duong sentenced six people to up to six years in jail last week for kidnapping an innocent teen and holding her for ransom in Cambodia.
Four of the defendants Nguyen Xuan Cuong, 23, Hong Minh Trung, 24, Nguyen Thi My Nguyen, 16, and Nguyen Thi Nhu Linh, 16, were Binh Duong locals who began gambling at Cambodian casinos in December 2012.
The men did not attend school or have jobs.
They hooked up with Phan Thi Kim Oanh, 40, who provided transportation and loan services for Vietnamese gamblers in Cambodia.
Oanh agreed to bring the girl across the border and arrange things so that she would believe she was in enormous gambling debt.
Gambling of all kinds is illegal in Vietnam, where casinos are only open to people with foreign ID cards or passports.
Oanh, Trung and Cuong received six years in jail each for organizing the abduction, Nguyen three years and Linh two and a half years.
Vo Van Lam, 31, who was Oanh’s right-hand man, was handed five and a half years.
Oanh will stay out of jail until her child is three years old.
According to the indictment, the four joined To Hong Tham, 15, to hang out at guest houses in Binh Duong in March last year, but they ran out of money, so Tham offered to help them bring her friend, a local secondary student, to Cambodia and into their debt trap.
Tham is still a minor and was not charged.
Oanh sent a taxi to pick up a number of the accomplices and the victim on the morning of March 20.
The victim was told that they were going for a leisurely day trip along the border.
Instead, Lam received them at the border and brought them into Cambodia.
Then Oanh sent another taxi to pick up Cuong and Trung.
The next day, Lam called the victim’s mother and demanded VND62 million (US$2,930). Then he forced the victim to call her mother and say she was in terrible debt.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Xuan, a mother and widow, sent a xe om (taxi motorbike) driver with VND42 million ($1,980) to the border two days later to drop off the ransom and return her child.
Oanh kept more than half of the money after giving the group of gamblers VND14.5 million and Lam VND5.5 million.
Xuan notified the police, who arrested Oanh, Nguyen and Linh.
Cuong, Trung and Lam gave themselves up at a later date.