Eight sentenced to death in major Vietnam drug trial

By Viet Dung   April 27, 2017 | 11:29 pm PT
The trans-national ring is believed to have trafficked nearly half a ton of heroin over a decade.

Eight Vietnamese men were sentenced to death on Thursday for dealing heroin, but their female ringleader was spared by a Hanoi court and received life imprisonment.

The trans-national ring, headed by Dang Minh Chau, 44, is believed to have trafficked 420 kilograms of heroin between 2004 and 2015, according to the verdict announced by the Hanoi People's Court.

The incident that led to the arrests of Chau's ring in July 2015 involved 170kg (375lb) of heroin valued at nearly VND100 billion ($4.4 million), the court said. 

Chau, 44, escaped capital punishment because she has a child who is under three years old.

Another man was sentenced to 18 months for illegal possession of a weapon, while a woman got 12 months probation for haboring criminals, the court decided after a four-day trial. 

In July 2015, Nguyen Quoc Hung, a restaurant owner, was asked to deliver a gas tank filled with 112kg of heroin to a district on the outskirts of Hanoi. He was detained on arrival with several others after his car was spotted and searched by police.

Police have issued a warrant against Nguyen Thanh Tuan, who allegedly played the role as Hung's boss in the case.

As police widened the investigation, they found another massive stash stuffed in two LPG tanks at Hung's restaurant. 

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.

Although the laws have been strictly enforced with capital punishment handed down regularly, there is no sign that drug running is slowing down.

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