Vietnamese cops have smashed a multi-million-dollar drug ring that pumped out ecstasy pills from mobile labs, police and state media said today, in what could be the country’s largest ever narcotics bust. Fifteen people were arrested including the alleged ringleader Van Kinh Duong, who used live video or social media to monitor his labs as they moved house-to-house to evade authorities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The labs churned out ‘E’ and other synthetic drugs, according to Cong An Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh City on Friday, the southern hub’s official newspaper. Photographs showed bins full of white powder, cooking flasks and scales, along with suitcases stuffed with ecstasy pill packets.
“The pills were transported from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi in suitcases of 5,000 pills weighing 50 kilograms,” the report said.
Police confiscated more than 500,000 ecstasy pills, 120 kilograms of unidentified powder — together worth an estimated $8.8 million — and $450,000 in cash at the bust in Ho Chi Minh City. Since the start of 2016, the network had produced around 300 kilograms of narcotics, according to the report.
A police officer in Ho Chi Minh City, requesting anonymity, told AFP the sting followed a year-long surveillance operation.
The bust is believed to be the “biggest ever” in communist Vietnam, the officer added. Vietnam has some of the toughest drug laws in the world, handing out heavy penalties to drug convicts.
Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600 grams of heroin, or more than 20 kilograms of opium can face the death penalty. This week, five heroin traffickers were sentenced to death after police accused them of smuggling 102 kilograms of drugs into Vietnam from Laos.