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Three major drug cases handled at the beginning of the year

09:35 | 13/01/2022

VCN - More than 43kg of drugs concealed in items were detected and prevented by HCM City Customs Department in the early days of 2022. This feat was recognized and praised by leaders at all levels.

Drugs are hidden in the wax block. Photo: H.T
Drugs are hidden in the wax block. Photo: H.T

New Year's Victory

According to the HCM City Customs Department, implementing the announcement of the Chairman of the HCM City People's Committee assigning HCM City Customs Department to coordinate with the HCM City police to research suspects transporting drugs via express delivery service, HCM City Customs Department developed many plans, special projects and directed its units to strengthen inspection and control to handle cases of illegal transportation through the management area. In particular, the Anti-Drug Customs Team worked closely with HCM Express Customs Branch to detect and prevent drugs sent via postal routes and express delivery in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through information collection in the country and abroad, combined with measures of key goods classification, the two units grasped the information that was taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic, the members of a transnational drug line in Germany, France, and the United States planned to bring a large amount of drugs from abroad into Vietnam through the international postal service and express delivery in HCM City and Hanoi in the form of non-commercial gifts, especially the synthetic drug MDMA tablets (ecstasy) and cannabis.

At the same time, through monitoring, HCM City Customs Department also grasped the information that, suspects in the drug smuggling line from HCM City to Australia had begun to resume operating with new tricks to disguise drugs.

By analyzing the situation, HCM City Customs Department said that the information was reasonable. To prevent this, the HCM City Customs Department has established three special projects and specific plans and assigned two units of the Anti-drug Enforcement Team to coordinate with HCM Express Customs Branch to set up a force to fight those drugs networks.

On January 4, 2022, HCM City Customs Department (including Anti-Drug Enforcement Team and Express Customs Branch) chaired and coordinated with competent forces including: Team 6 - under the Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department - General Department of Vietnam Customs; Drug-related Crimes Investigation Police Department – HCM City police to successfully handle three projects, seizing a total of nearly 25kg of MDMA (ecstasy), heroin and 18kg of marijuana hidden in parcels of imports and exports that were illegally transported via international postal and express delivery services.

The method of hiding drugs is very sophisticated. It could be in household items, scented wax blocks, phonographs, or pressed into the sides of carton boxes, while marijuana is disguised in cereal and milk cans and cake and sealed so it cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Coordinating to fight against drug-related crimes

According to Huynh Nam, Head of the Anti-Drug Enforcement Team, for imported goods, smugglers would often change the sender's address from abroad and the recipient's address in Vietnam, fake information in order to avoid detection of competent forces. Then, they hire people to hook up with logistics staff, courier deliveries to ship the goods to the location that would be announced later.

For export goods, suspects used fake citizen identification to send goods at local post offices and hire motorbike taxis via Viber and Zalo to deliver goods to service companies for carrying out customs procedures in order to erase traces when detected.

Therefore, in order to implement the above projects, all officers participating in solving the case have raised their sense of responsibility in the fields of work such as Express Customs Branch focuses on goods from key routes under the plans, special projects set out for daily screening to detect suspicious packages; the Anti-Drug Enforcement Team coordinated with competent forces to verify the identity, address, and phone number of the recipients of the suspicious shipments based on the bill of lading number, and applied professional measures to clarify the owner of the shipment; at the same time, identify those who send suspicious export packages at local post offices.

As a result of verification, all the recipients' names on the bills of lading are not real, or have addresses but there is no information about the name of the person who is temporarily living in the locality, the phone numbers written on the boxes all used junk sim cards, citizen IDs and license plates are all fake.

The customs authority has coordinated with the Postal and Express Delivery Centers to send invitations to the address of the recipient requesting them to complete the procedures to receive the goods. They had sent more than three times but the suspects did not contact or did not come to receive and send goods.

Currently, buying, selling and sending goods online is very easy, while detecting and arresting suspects in transnational drug crime lines that transport goods illegally via express delivery and international postage is extremely difficult. The reason is that smugglers use the tricks of using fake names, fake addresses, fake phone numbers when carrying out procedures to send and receive goods. When the goods return to Vietnam, the subjects often hire or ask someone to pick up the goods or entrust the courier company to carry out the customs procedures on behalf of them, and then deliver the goods to the designated address. Those who are hired do not know that the packages contain drugs. They just think that goods are gifts.

On the other hand, the suspects track the shipment online (each parcel was granted an account by the courier agent), when the goods were not cleared within the specified time, the suspect would leave the shipment and cut off the contact. Therefore, it is very difficult to arrest criminals. This is an issue that is being researched by the customs and police forces in order to find solutions to fight and deal with drug-related crimes in accordance with the law.

By Lê Thu/Thanh Thuy