Salvadoran man indicted by Hanoi court on cocaine smuggling charges

By VnExpress   May 9, 2017 | 09:20 pm GMT+7

The man is accused of setting up a ghost company and sending 56kg of cocaine from South America to Vietnam.

A man from El Salvador accused of shipping 56 kilograms of cocaine from South America into Vietnam between 2014 and 2015 was officially indicted on Monday in Hanoi, local daily Anninhthudo (Capital Security) reported.

Mata Bernal Carlos Rene, 38, was arrested in 2015 at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 following a police investigation.

Based on the indictment, Rene, using his fake name Maximo Loyola, established a ghost company in Brazil called Century Scrap Metal. He later secured an import-export contract with Delta International Limited, a company based in Hanoi.

Rene used the contract to export containers from South America to Vietnam through the partner company. In August 2014, Century Scrap Metal exported nine shipments into the country, and three were found to contain a total of 17kg of cocaine.

On May 15, 2015, authorities at Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh City discovered nearly 28kg of cocaine hidden inside a container of plywood floorboards imported by Delta.

A week later, local authorities stopped a rice grinder consignment transported by air from Argentina to Ha Noi with nearly 12kg of cocaine hidden inside.

Police said that all the shipments had been directly financed by Rene, including service charges, import tax and VAT. The investigating agency claimed that there were enough grounds for the Salvadorian man to face criminal charges.

The agency said it would not hold Delta and other related shipping companies liable as the drugs were hidden in the shipments without their knowledge.

Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing or 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.