Saigon police bust downtown bars in midnight raids, send drug users fleeing

By Quoc Thang   October 28, 2017 | 04:28 pm GMT+7
Saigon police bust downtown bars in midnight raids, send drug users fleeing
A police photo shows police officers attending drug raids in downtown Saigon early Saturday.

The bars were fined for harboring drug use, late opening and fire safety violation.

Many drug users were arrested as the police swooped on three downtown bars in Saigon in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Hundreds of officers, bringing along drug-sniffing dogs, busted the Las Vegas beer club on Nguyen Trai Street, S5 Club on Ly Tu Trong and Barocco Club on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia.

Many people were seen fleeing but tens of suspected drug users were taken away for tests.

The bars were fined for harboring drug use, late opening and fire safety violation. Vietnam is considering lifting its night curfew to 2 a.m., but most bars and nightclubs in Saigon, the country’s largest city, are now only allowed to serve until midnight.

Figures from Vietnam’s social affairs ministry show that Saigon has nearly 22,000 registered addicts, the highest number in the country and nearly 10 percent of the country’s total.

Drug use is banned in Vietnam, where producing and trading drugs are also outlawed. 

Vietnam developed its approach to drug addiction based on the presumption that it represents a “social evil” that can be cured with abstinence and re-education.

Following international criticism, the government established a timeframe in 2013 to gradually replace compulsory detention centers with community-based, voluntary treatment regimens.

The transition, however, has proven tricky given inconsistencies in the legal system, the widely-held belief that drug addiction stems from moral failure and the lack of competent doctors, therapists and equipment.