Da Nang urged to get real about rising drug use following 2 murders

By Ngoc Truong   November 13, 2016 | 05:14 am PT
Da Nang urged to get real about rising drug use following 2 murders
Drug users attend a music show at a rehab center in Hanoi. Photo by AFP
Drug addicts in the city have increased by 60 percent since May 2014.

Da Nang’s top leader has admitted that the plan to develop a city free of drugs has failed and is urging officials to be honest about the situation following two murders involving drug users.

Huynh Duc Tho, the mayor of the central city, said at a meeting on Saturday that local officials have been concealing drug use in their areas in an attempt to paint a positive image of the city.

Tho called the meeting after two people were murdered in separate incidents by men who were high on methamphetamine in October, and urged officials to take immediate action.

“We cannot be soft anymore," he said. "We need to take bold and tough actions as the stakes are very high.” 

Under a local incentive scheme, wards receive awards and certificates of merits if they are found to be free from drugs.

In an attempt to make officials get real about the situation, Tho promised awards for the wards that arrest the most number of drug users and dealers as well.

Nguyen Van Chinh, deputy chief police officer of Da Nang, said the murders have really scared the public and should raise the alarm about security in the area.

A police report at the meeting showed that drug users in the city have increased 60 percent from May 2014 to 3,016 by the end of October. The city this year has recorded 2,190 drug users, and sent 500 into compulsory rehabilitation centers.

Vietnam has stopped treating drug use as a crime but addicts are sent to rehab centers. Drug smuggling, dealing and production are punishable by death.

Da Nang, Vietnam’s third largest city, set an idealistic goal of becoming a model city free of homeless people and drug users in 2001.

But the goal has been seriously challenged.

Earlier this year, police said the amount of heroin seized had increased more than five times since 2014, and blamed drug use for a 7.6 percent rise in street crimes.

The number of homeless people has also increased fourfold since 2014 to nearly 400 early this year, officials said.

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