18 sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including former Korean policeman

By Hai Duyen   November 11, 2023 | 07:15 pm PT
18 sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including former Korean policeman
Kim Soon Sik, a former South Korean police officer, is escorted from the police following a drug trafficking trial at the HCMC People's Court, Nov. 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
A former South Korean police officer and 17 other people in Ho Chi Minh City were sentenced to death Saturday for trafficking over 216 kg of drugs.

Former South Korean cop Kim Soon Sik, 63, his compatriot Kang Seon Hok, 30, and Chinese man Li Tian Guan, 58, received the death sentence from the Family and Juvenile Court under the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court for drug trafficking, following a four-day trial.

Vietnamese Le Hong Vu, 30, also received death for both drug trafficking and fabricating official seals and documents.

14 others were sentenced to death for the illegal transport, storage, trade and procuring of drugs.

Three were sentenced for life. One person aged under 18 at the time of the crime, Le Thanh Nghia, was sentenced to 15 years in jail.

The case has the highest number of death sentences among all drug cases in HCMC.

Vu was the mastermind in transporting over 168 kg of drugs, and used multiple fake IDs to hide his identity.

He said the drugs were obtained from a man in Cambodia named Be, who employed numerous accomplices in a larger drug ring.

Sik, a former South Korean police officer, was expelled from the force due to violations. From 2000 to 2016, he was jailed six times for violations regarding immigration and emigration.

After serving his sentences, Sik came to Vietnam in 2019 to rent an apartment on Song Hanh Street in Thu Duc City, looking for business opportunities.

He and his Vietnamese lover, 40-year-old Huynh Thi Hoa Tran, eventually ended up running an industrial machine import-export company, which also exported granite to South Korea.

In early 2020, Sik met Guan during a meal at a Korean restaurant. In June 2020, he accepted Guan's offer to transport drugs for ₩5 million ($3,808) per kilogram, and he also invited his former cellmate Hak to join.

From July 3 to July 12, 2020, Sik and Hak received drugs for Vu three times, totaling to 39.5 kg. The drugs were taken back to Sik’s apartment, then brought to his lover’s house to be hidden between slabs of granite, according to investigators.

On July 18, 2020, Sik told his lover to hire a car and brought 10 stacks of granite to Cat Lai Port to be exported to South Korea. However, the crew was caught in the act by officers from the Ministry of Public Security that night.

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