Jason Dinh, a 41-year-old Vietnamese American, being escorted out of a courtroom in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN TRI
A Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced a Vietnamese American to death on Tuesday for attempting to smuggle more than one kilogram of heroin from Vietnam to Australia.
Jason Dinh, 41, was convicted of “illegally transporting drugs” by the HCMC People’s Court.
According to the indictment, at around 6 p.m. on June 12, 2013, with the help of scanners, customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport detected three plastic bags containing white powder stuffed in Dinh's underwear as he prepared to board a flight to Australia.
Labratory analysis identified the white powder as over a kilogram of heroin.
Dinh told police he worked as an automobile mechanic in the U.S. and had gotten to know a Middle Eastern man known only as Michael.
In January of 2013, Michael invited Dinh to gamble at a casino in Las Vegas. After Dinh lost all of his money, Michael lent him US$20,000, which Dinh lost as well.
As Dinh was unable to pay the debt, he agreed to work for Michael.
In June, Michael gave Dinh $4,500 to buy an air ticket to Vietnam.
On June 7, Dinh arrived at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport and met Michael at a hotel in District 5.
Several days later, Michael said he was unable to arrange a job for Dinh and told him to travel to Australia carrying the three plastic bags in his underwear.
Michael handed Dinh $1,500 in cash and promised that if Dinh made it to Australia he'd absolve Dinh's $20,000 gambling debt and pay him an additional $10,000.
Dinh was arrested immediately before boarding the plane.
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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