Vietnam woman tries to take rap for drug-pusher mother, both sentenced

Thanh Nien News

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From left: Nguyen Thi Hong Ngoc, her mother Dang Thi Hai Huong, Hoang Vien Yen, and Le Thi Kim Lien at their trial in Nghe An Province March 31 for drug trafficking. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre
A court in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An Tuesday sentenced a woman to 20 years in jail for drug trafficking, and her daughter, who had tried to shield her, to one year.

Dang Thi Hai Huong, 41, had been caught with more than 718 grams of heroin, but her life sentence was commuted since she has a child aged less than three.

She had bought the heroin from Hoang Van Yen, 39, who got a life sentence, for Le Thi Kiem Lien, 47 -- also a pusher -- who got 15 years, news website Dan Tri reported.

Lien had given Huong US$2,000, enough to buy 37.5 grams.

Huong drove to Yen’s place on March 9 last year with her daughter, Nguyen Thi Hong Ngoc, 21, then a Hanoi university student, and two other children she’d had with other men after her husband went abroad.

When their car was stopped by the police that night, Ngoc got out with the bag of heroin and tried to flee but was caught.

Ngoc told the court that she had known nothing about the business until her mother stepped out of Yen’s house with the bag.

She had taken it from her mother to help reduce her punishment, she said.

“I thought about my two little siblings who need to be taken care of,” she said.

She was released since she had been in jail for a year and 23 days.

A search of Yen’s house turned up another 143 grams of heroin, $17,840, and a car used to deliver the drug.

Yen said he had bought 861.3 grams of heroin from a Laotian and had only sold to Huong.

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.

Vietnam officially switched from the firing squad to lethal injection in November 2011. But it was not until last August did the country execute its first prisoner with the new method due to the unavailability of stipulated drugs.

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