Former DJ arrested for running 'happy water' drug cocktail ring

By Kien Tuong   November 22, 2023 | 10:28 pm PT
HCMC police have detained a woman operating a ring producing a so-called "happy water" drug cocktail from a recipe she learned from working as a DJ at clubs overseas.
Nguyen Thi Hoai when she was arrested in HCMC, November 22, 2023. Photo by police

Nguyen Thi Hoai when she was arrested in HCMC, Nov. 22, 2023. Photo by police

Nguyen Thi Hoai, 31, is now facing the charge of "illegal producing and transporting narcotic substances."

Her accomplices Thach Hoang Minh, 42, and Vo Thi Quynh Trang, 26 were also arrested.

The arrest came after police started early this year to track down a group of people in HCMC who showed signs of producing narcotics.

After a period of investigation, they identified Hoai as the leader of the ring, which makes "happy water," a cocktail of synthetic drugs, a powdered mixture which typically contains ketamine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, diazepam, caffeine and is then dissolved in liquid to make a beverage.

The cocktail makes drinkers feel happy and excited for a long period.

Hoai told police that she used to work as a DJ at several clubs abroad where she had learned the recipe to make the drug cocktail.

After returning to Vietnam, she launched a business to produce the cocktail to sell.

She imported the ingredients and recruited Minh and Trang to work for the ring.

More than 10 others were hired to run the production facility.

The "happy water" product made by Hoai’s ring is packed as tea or coffee bags for disguise.

Hoai only traded the product via social media and frequently changed the locations of her warehouses.

Bags of the happy water drug cocktail produced by the ring run by Nguyen Thi Hoai. Photo by police

Bags of the "happy water" drug cocktail produced by a ring run by Nguyen Thi Hoai. Photo by police

At the end of May 2023, more than 200 officers and soldiers conducted a raid into seven locations where Hoai’s ring produced and kept the drugs across HCMC.

They seized 217 kilograms of synthetic drugs that would have been used to produce one ton of the "happy water" powder.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime last year raised concerns over the emergence of the potent cocktail.

It said in a report issued in May last year the effects of consuming drug products containing a combination of substances could be unpredictable and dangerous.

Most overdoses, including fatal ones, involve use of more than one type of drug, according to the office.

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