Australian woman sentenced to death for drug trafficking

By Hai Duyen   July 29, 2019 | 06:32 am PT
Australian woman sentenced to death for drug trafficking
Lam Kim Phung is escorted by a police officer to trial in Ho Chi Minh City on July 29, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen.
A HCMC court Monday sentenced a Vietnamese Australian drug ring leader and three of her accomplices to death.

Lam Kim Phung, 55, was arrested in 2016 and identified as the leader of a gang that trafficked heroin and methamphetamine from Cambodia into Ho Chi Minh City.

She was charged with "illegal trading of narcotic substances." Three of her henchmen, Le Quang Cuong, Nguyen Duy Thach Thao and Tran Quynh Linh, also got death sentences.

Three other defendants were given life sentences, and four others, including Phung’s brother, also a Vietnamese Australian citizen, were given imprisonment terms of three years and six months to 20 years.

According to the indictment, Phung returned to Vietnam from Australia in 2005 and opened restaurants and casinos in Cambodia. After suffering losses with her business, she came up with idea of trafficking drugs.

Phung bought drugs in Cambodia and hired people near the border gates of Tay Ninh, Dong Thap and An Giang provinces in southern Vietnam to deliver them to Ho Chi Minh City.

The court heard that her ring had sold a total of 5.5 kilograms (12lb) of methamphetamine worth VND380 million ($16,370) a kilo and 16.5 grams of heroin worth VND1.1 billion ($47,400) to Thao.

On November 28, 2016, police officers raided a house on To Hien Thanh Street in District 10 and arrested Thao and Phung’s accomplice red handed, seizing three kilos of meth. A subsequent search of Thao’s house, found nearly two kilos of meth and heroin.

A day later, police also detained Phung’s brother and his wife at a hotel on Pham Hong Thai Street in District 1 for illegal possession of heroin.

Based on testimonies of the detained, police captured Phung and other accomplices in the drug ring.

Drug trafficking and drug abuse has continued to flourish in Vietnam despite the country having 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.

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