Saigon bar owner arrested for drug trade

By Quoc Thang   August 6, 2019 | 08:07 am GMT+7
Saigon bar owner arrested for drug trade
Vietnamese American Le Van Tien is held at a police station for organizing illegal use of drugs at his bar in Saigon on July 28, 2019. Photo courtesy of HCMC Police.

A Vietnamese-American bar owner and 15 others were detained in Saigon Monday for investigating possession of drugs and concealing their use.

Le Van Tien, 54, owner of the 030-X8 bar on Nam Quoc Cang Street in HCMC’s downtown District 1, and 15 of his employees are facing charges for "concealing illegal use of narcotics," and "illegal possession of narcotic substances," HCMC police said Monday.

Tien had already been put under investigation last month for "organizing illegal use of narcotics."

Last month's investigation was launched after hundreds of police officers raided the bar near Saigon’s famous backpacker precinct and found over 300 people inside with signs of drug abuse.

Some tried to throw their drugs away and flee the bar, but were stopped and taken to the police station for tests. Over 200 people tested positive for banned substances.

Many packets of drugs, including ecstasy, were found on the dance floor.

The drug users told the police that the bar staff had provided them with ecstasy and trays of other drugs.

Police said they discovered a lot of drugs in the employees' lockers. The staff said their boss knew that they sold banned substances to drug users and reminded them often "to be discreet."

Police also discovered a large amount of drugs in Tien’s house.

Drug trafficking, trade and abuse appear to have increased in Vietnam despite the country having some of the world’s toughest drug laws.

The use of synthetic drugs has been rising among partying youth, many reports have noted. Last September, seven people died of suspected drug overdose at a music concert in Hanoi.

23,500 known drug users were recorded by Saigon authorities last year, a 7 percent increase from 2017.

Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of the HCMC Police department, has remarked that the city has become an increasingly used transit point for drugs because of its well connected roads, marine and air transport services.

Vietnamese authorities deal with around 20,000 drug cases every year and arrest around 30,000 people. The country has some 250,000 registered addicts, but the actual figures are thought to be much higher.

 
 
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