Former Korean cop on trial in HCMC for smuggling 40 kg of drugs

By Hai Duyen   August 10, 2023 | 07:13 am PT
Former Korean cop on trial in HCMC for smuggling 40 kg of drugs
South Korean Kim Soon Sik, a former police officer, is escorted by police officer in HCMC, August 10, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
A former South Korean police officer in HCMC claimed innocence despite having been caught transporting 39.5 kg of drugs with several South Korean and Chinese accomplices.

Kim Soon Sik, 63, a former South Korean police officer, along with compatriot Kang Seon Hak, 30, Chinese national Li Tian Guan, 58, Vietnamese Le Hong Vu, 36, and 18 others were tried before the HCMC People’s Court on Wednesday for transporting, storing and trading drugs, as well as fabricating seals and documents.

Of those who stood trial, one defendant was under 18 years of age. Vu was considered the mastermind of the ring, which had transported a total of 168 kg of drugs. Vu said he received the drugs from a Vietnamese named Be in Cambodia.

Authorities said Kim was a former police officer, who fell from grace, was expelled from the force, and then turned to a life of crime. From 2000 to 2016, he was jailed six times for crimes regarding illegal immigration.

In 2019, after serving his sentence, Kim went to Vietnam and rented an apartment in Thu Duc City. He and his Vietnamese lover, 40-year-old Huynh Thi Hoa Tran, ran the APE Industrial Machine and Equipment company, which exports granite to the South Korean market.

Kim met Li during a meal at a Korean restaurant in 2020. In June that year, Kim accepted Li’s offer to transport drugs, at a price of ₩5 million ($3,816) for each kilogram of drugs transported. Kim then also invited Kang, his former cellmate, to join the ring, investigation found.

From July 3 to July 12, 2020, Kim and Kang received 39.5 kg of drugs from Vu. The drugs were hidden inside packs of granite. Kim told his lover on July 18 to bring the drugs to the Cat Lai Port so they could be exported to South Korea.

But as the vehicle carrying the drugs was entering the port, the Ministry of Public Security stopped and searched it, and uncovered all the evidence. Further investigations resulted in the arrest of all others involved.

At the trial, Kim said he was merely a transporter for Li, and did not know that he was transporting drugs.

"When I negotiated with Li, I only knew that it was Viagra," Kim said, adding that he was tricked by the Chinese man.

Li also proclaimed his innocence, saying he was harmed by Kim and his accomplices. Li said a compatriot called him to meet Vu and receive goods that he did not know were drugs.

Vu said he followed instructions from Be to give Li 39.5 kg of drugs, which were then given to Kim. Vu said Be hid the drugs inside machines before having people deliver them to Vu. Besides the aforementioned 39.5 kg of drugs, another 74 kg of drugs were hidden at an apartment in Binh Chanh District and were seized by police.

On Thursday, the court said further investigations were needed to clarify certain details.

go to top