Extensive trafficking routes, customs loopholes make Vietnam a drug transit hub

By Pham Du   May 9, 2019 | 07:29 pm PT
Extensive trafficking routes, customs loopholes make Vietnam a drug transit hub
Vietnam’s long border, extensive traffic routes and loopholes in customs checkpoints make the country a popular drug trafficking hub from the Golden Triangle. Photo by Shutterstock/Metamorphic Photography
Vietnam’s long borders, multitude of trafficking routes and customs loopholes make it a major drug trafficking hub, top drug officials admit.

Speaking at an online conference on the government portal on Wednesday, Vu Van Hau, deputy head of the Police Department for Investigating Drug Crimes, said many international drug trafficking rings have begun to use Vietnam as a transit point.

Over three tons of meth, one ton of heroin and millions of ecstasy pills were seized in a series of busts this year, he said.

"We have enough evidence to prove that these drugs were transported from the Golden Triangle [to Vietnam] to be sent to a third country."

The Golden Triangle lies at the intersection of China, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar and is the world's second largest drug producing area behind the Golden Crescent in South Asia.

Long borders, multiple ports and easy overland connectivity with other countries make Vietnam a prime location for transiting drugs, Hau said.

Do Ngoc Canh, deputy head of the Border Defense Force’s Anti-Drug Department, said customs loopholes at ports also make Vietnam an attractive transit point for drug traffickers.

"[Drug traffickers] often hide drugs inside normal goods before putting them in containers, which makes it difficult for authorities to control."

The Ministry of Public Security and the Border Defense Force are conducting regular patrols and raids along the Laos border together with other countries.

Vietnamese authorities discover around 20,000 cases involving drugs every year and arrest 30,000 people. The country has some 250,000 registered addicts, but actual figures could be much higher.

In March the Saigon police raided a warehouse in Binh Tan District and seized over 300 kilograms of meth, the largest meth bust ever in the city. At least 11 people of Lao, Chinese and Vietnamese nationalities were held.

The case prompted senior police officers to warn that Saigon is growing into a transit point for drugs thanks to its logistics infrastructure.

In Vietnam, those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or cocaine or more than 2.5 kg of methamphetamine could 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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