Vietnamese granny cheats death, gets life sentence for heroin smuggling

By Hai Duyen   April 4, 2017 | 08:22 pm PT
Vietnamese granny cheats death, gets life sentence for heroin smuggling
Nguyen Thi Miet (3rd from left) at the trial on Tuesday in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress
The 83-year-old woman had already been jailed for trafficking heroin.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City has commuted the death sentence to life in prison for an 83-year-old Vietnamese woman convicted of trafficking heroin, citing her age.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on Tuesday found Nguyen Thi Miet, 83, guilty of possessing and distributing 7.7 kilogram (17 lb) of heroin, which she bought from Ngo Van Thanh in the city in 2014.  

Thanh and another man have been found guilty at the same trial and sentenced to death, while eight others were handed down jail terms from 15 years to life in prison, based on the verdict delivered Tuesday.

Vietnam's 2015 Penal Code waives the death sentence for criminals of more than 75 years old.

Previously Miet had served five years in prison also on the same charge. After being released, she returned to Ho Chi Minh City. In mid 2014, police caught Miet receiving a bag containing 10 packs of heroin from Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City. A subsequent raid at her house uncovered another pack and 10 small bags of heroin, along with $92,000.

The court on Tuesday decided to return $92,000 to Miet as the police could not prove the cash was originated from her drug trafficking.

Police investigators have determined that Miet had bought a total of 22 packs of heroin worth more than $202,000 and raked in over VND120 million ($5,300) by selling them.

Last year, a court in Vietnam also commuted the death sentence of a 73-year-old Vietnamese-Australian woman, who was convicted of trafficking over a kilo of heroin. The punishment was reduced to life in prison as the court cited the defendant's sincere confession and her age.

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

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

Although the laws have been strictly enforced with death sentences handed down regularly, drug running continues in border areas.

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