Vietnam sentences 11 to death for heroin trafficking

By VnExpress   August 9, 2016 | 03:00 pm PT
Vietnam sentences 11 to death for heroin trafficking
In the dock: The defendants get their comeuppance for heroin smuggling at an eight-day trial that ended Monday in Lang Son. Photo by VnExpress/Hong Van
The 19-member ring smuggled nearly 280 kilograms into China over two years.

A court in the northern mountainous province of Lang Son has sentenced 11 people to death for smuggling nearly 280 kilograms (617 pounds) of heroin from Vietnam to China between 2013 and 2014.

Two other defendants got life sentences after an 8-day trial that ended on Monday in Lang Son, which borders China.

Investigators said the defendants, many of whom are relatives and aged 25 to 40, belonged to a 19-member smuggling ring responsible for trafficking heroin from Son La, Hoa Binh and Hanoi to Lang Son, where the drugs were then sent over the border to China.

The ring raked in profits totaling VND10 billion ($448,000) during the two-year span, investigators said. Vietnam’s annual average income was around $2,100 last year, according to the World Bank.

Police busted the ring in December 2014, making mass arrests and seizing large quantities of illegal drugs.

Of the 19 members, six remain at large and another died before the trial began. A Chinese ring member has been sent back to China after police suspended their investigation into him, but it is not immediately clear why they did so.

In 2014, in what was one of Vietnam's largest narcotics cases, a court in Hanoi sentenced 29 people to death for trafficking more than 12 tons of heroin from Laos into Vietnam and China.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.

The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

Vietnam officially switched from the firing squad to lethal injection in November 2011, but it was not until August 2013 that the country executed its first prisoner with the new method due to a shortage of the fatal serum.

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