Police probe beached drugs in central Vietnam

By Dac Thanh, Vo Thanh, Ba Do   December 3, 2019 | 02:56 am PT
Police probe beached drugs in central Vietnam
Heroin packs in a plastic barrel found along the beach in Quang Nam Province on November 30. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
The Ministry of Public Security is investigating the origins of heroin and meth washed ashore on Vietnam’s central coast over the past few days.

Forces from the ministry’s drug crimes department are scoring Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces for leads into heroin and meth hidden in plastic barrels and tea packages found on the coast between Saturday and Tuesday.

Senior local officials have all confirmed the drugs stemmed from elsewhere.

Assumptions hold smugglers may have dropped their stash into the sea when chased by police.

Colonel Nguyen Van Hien, head of the border guard department in Thua Thien Hue, believes boats carrying the drugs were hit by a storm, causing the cargo to be washed ashore.

"It’s possible more packages are floating out at sea. If anyone notices anything suspicious, we would like to be informed immediately," Hien said, adding his department is assisting provincial police with the case.

Colonel Nguyen Duc Dung, director of the Quang Nam police department, confirmed there had been no recent drug raid, and that, as the barrels containing the drugs were covered in oysters and shells, they could have been at sea for some time.

All recently discovered packages were detected by locals, purely by chance.

In the early morning of Tuesday, a scrap vendor named Ho Van Loc, 47, from Thua Thien Hue’s Quang Dien District, found a plastic barrel of around 40 centimeters high containing 21 rectangle-shaped packs covered in plastic.

On handing the barrel to a local border guard, it was found to contain heroin, the Chinese markings similar to those found on 25 heroin packages weighing 10 kilos discovered last Saturday along the shore in Tam Ky Town of Quang Nam.

Previously, Phan Van Sau, from Gio Linh District in Quang Tri, detected a plastic barrel covered in Chinese characters with square boxes covered in plastic containing seven kilos of meth.

Last Sunday, a local in Phong Dien District of Thua Thien Hue retrieved eight Chinese tea packages containing eight kilos of meth.

Meth hidden in tea packages washed ashore in Thua Thien Hue Province on December 1. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh

Eight kilograms of meth hidden inside packages of tea washed ashore in Thua Thien Hue Province on December 1, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Questioned if the newly-found drugs are related to the HCMC cartels broken up earlier this year, major-general Pham Van Cac, chief drug crime investigator at the ministry, said: "It’s hard to say. We’ll provide an answer later."

On March 20, HCMC witnessed its largest drug haul ever when hundreds of police officers and border guards netted around 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of meth on its way to Taiwan.

Police detained Chinese kingpin Wu Heshan, 57, discovering the ring operated nationwide and was linked to two seizures of around 300 kilos each in central Vietnam last year.

A week later, police arrested two Taiwanese men and a Vietnamese driver transporting more than 300 kilos of heroin on the city’s outskirts.

They traced the drugs to Myanmar, but found the gang, led by Taiwanese Chen Wei, 31, had no ties to Wu’s outfit, though each shared the same source in the Golden Triangle, an intersection of China, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar and the world's second-largest drug producing region.

Police additionally found that more than a month prior to the raid, Chen’s gang had successfully hidden heroin inside tea bags destined for Taiwan.

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