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Highway robbers arrested after $1.5 mln heist

By Quoc Thang   June 21, 2020 | 05:49 pm PT
Highway robbers arrested after $1.5 mln heist
Seven men arrested for a robbery on Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway near HCMC, June 21, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang.
Seven people were arrested in the southern Dong Nai Province Sunday after they waylaid a family and robbed them of VND35 billion ($1.5 million) in a planned operation.

Police from the Ministry of Public Security said the seven men were from different places and claimed that their gang had no leader.

The arrested gang members are: Ho Ngoc Tai, 31, and Tran Ngoc Hoang, 37, from Da Nang; Mai Xuan Phot, 28, from the neighboring Quang Nam Province; Nguyen Van Duc, 24, of Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands; Trinh Tuan Anh, 35, Bui Quang Chung, 24, and Truong Chi Hai, 31, from Ho Chi Minh City.

The robbery took place in mid-May when a businessman, whose identity has not been revealed, was driving back to HCMC from the Central Highlands' Lam Dong Province in a car. When they reached the Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway in Dong Nai Province, another car bumped into them.

When the businessman got out of the car to deal with the incident, three other cars arrived at the spot. More than 10 men with guns, knives and needles with bloodstains blindfolded him and put him in one of the cars. The wife and a baby girl a few months old were taken to another car. The businessman’s car was driven away by another one of the robbers.

The husband was beaten and asked for his e-wallet password with the threat that they would kill his wife and inject his baby daughter with HIV-infected blood. Desperate to save the lives of his wife and child, the man gave the robbers the password and they transferred VND35 billion ($1.5 million) to another account.

Once they got the money, they forced the husband to call his relatives and ask for the transfer of another $9.5 million to the wallet. His relatives overheard him shouting "stop beating me," and refused to act on the robbers’ demand. After failing to coerce any more money out of the man for more than two hours, they left him and his family in a deserted area in District 2 in HCMC and left.

Realizing that this was no ordinary robbery but a well planned operation, the local police department reported the case to the Ministry of Public Security.

Under the direction of Major General Tran Ngoc Ha, head of the ministry's Crime Division, investigators tracked the money flow and arrested the seven people.

The arrested people told the police that they blamed the businessman for the failure of a business investment and they hired a "private detective" and several other people to execute the robbery.

Mai Xuan Phot, the private detective, tracked the movements of the businessman’s family for more than half a month. Once this was determined, the robbery was planned at a hotel on Bui Thi Xuan Street in HCMC's District 1.

They chose a deserted area on Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway to waylay the businessman. They used three cars with many weapons, guns, needles with blood to threaten the wife and daughter.

"This is an extremely dangerous organized gang that makes careful calculations. It is likely that they have committed crimes in many other provinces and cities," Ha said. He also said that they were searching for other people involved in the crime.

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