Mekong Delta woman helms weapon ring that sells 600 guns

By Lan Vy   August 11, 2023 | 01:34 am PT
A woman in the Mekong Delta's Kien Giang Province stands accused of leading a weapon ring that sent over 600 guns from Nha Trang to the delta.

Vu Thi Diep, 33, the ring leader, along with Duong Minh Tuan, 31, and 15 other accomplices were brought before the Kien Giang People’s Court on Thursday to be trialed for the illegal manufacture, storage, transport, use, or appropriation of military weapons or devices.

Vu Thi Diep stands before the Kien Giang Peoples Court on August 10, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Vy

Vu Thi Diep stands before the Kien Giang People's Court on August 10, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Vy

In August 2022, police of Kien Giang caught Tuan red-handedly storing meth at a motel in Rach Gia City. A search in Tuan’s residence revealed numerous tools used to create firearms.

Tuan said he learned how to make guns, and from May to August 2022 he and certain other people made 15 guns that fire rubber bullets. The ammunition was provided by a pair of husband and wife: Cao Van Hoai and Vo Ngoc Tram in Rach Gia.

Tuan sold eight guns at VND1-5.5 million ($42.10-231.56) for each gun, and around 50 bullets in Kien Giang and the neighboring provinces of An Giang and Ca Mau. He also gifted a gun to a customer.

A search at the residence of Hoai and Tram revealed around 70 guns and 239 bullets. They said both the guns and the bullets were provided by Diep.

Further investigations resulted in the arrest of Diep in HCMC and her three underlings in Binh Duong that borders HCMC and Khanh Hoa, home to Nha Trang.

A search at Diep's warehouse in Nha Trang revealed 229 guns, six bullets and other tools and equipment.

Guns seized by police from Vu Thi Dieps operation. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Vy

Guns seized by police from Vu Thi Diep's operation. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Vy

Investigators said from early 2022 to October 17, 2022, Diep had transferred to Hoai and Tram around 400 guns, 1,300 rubber bullets and 1,300 pressurized gas canisters. Hoai and Tram then sold around 40 guns directly, and 190 others per Diep's order.

In 2019, Diep and her husband were sentenced to jail time by the Cu Chi District People’s Committee for illegal weapon sale. Diep was supposed to serve three years in jail, but the sentence was suspended as she was raising a small child. During her time out of jail, Diep continued to make connections to sell weapons from Cambodia to Vietnam.

The trial is expected to end on Friday.

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