|Vietnam is struggling to combat the movement of drugs from the Golden Triangle, an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet and one of the world’s largest drug-producing regions.— VNA/VNS Photo
Vietnam is struggling to combat the movement of drugs from the Golden Triangle, an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet and one of the world’s largest drug-producing regions.
Since the beginning of the year, Vietnamese law enforcement officers have seized more than three tonnes of methamphetamine, one tonne of heroin and millions of methamphetamine pills. This is an unprecedented amount and it has attracted the public’s attention, with many linking it to the rampant drug abuse within the country, especially among young people.
International anti-drug organisations claimed that 250 tonnes of drugs originate from the Golden Triangle each year, said Colonel Do Ngoc Canh, deputy chief of the anti-drug and crime department under the High Command of Border Defence.
He said drug traffickers traditionally moved their contraband through northern border provinces such as Son La and Hoa Binh. They often employed locals from both sides of the border and protected their convoys with armed bodyguards, who were frequently willing to open fire on law enforcement forces to avoid arrest.
However, as Vietnamese and Lao security forces intensified their co-operation and efforts to combat drug traffickers on this route over the last 10 years, traffickers have started setting up routes through the central highlands region and some provinces in the south and south-central parts of the country.
As the criminals move their drugs, a relatively small amount is likely to be sold within Vietnam along their route. The rest is smuggled into other countries, said Colonel Vu Van Hau, deputy chief of drug crime investigation department under the Ministry of Public Security.
As a neighbouring country, Vietnam naturally became a frequent route for drugs from the Golden Triangle. The country’s long land borders and its vast waters make it ideal for drug traffickers to move their products, he said.
Hau said that in most cases, the ringleaders were foreigners. They often run their operations under the guise of legitimate businesses. Large quantities of drugs have been found among products being exported to other countries.
In one notable recent case, 276kg of methamphetamine hidden in a plastic container were discovered in the Philippines. The container was shipped from Cat Lai Port in HCM City.
As for made-in-Vietnam drugs, he said Vietnamese law enforcement can say with some degree of confidence there is no large-scale domestic drug production at this time.
Drugs, however, have become a large social issue in recent years with the number of both drug-related crimes and addicts on the rise. Last year, law enforcement handled 24,500 drug-related criminal cases and arrested more than 30,000 involved people.
Recent statistics show there are more than 250,000 drug addicts on record, with the off-the-record figure expected to be much higher.