Nearly 21,471 drug-trafficking cases were reported in 2017, up 14.5 percent from 2016, according to a report on collaboration among the Police General Department, the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDC), Vietnam Border Guard High Command and Vietnam Coast Guard.
Some 32,950 suspects were detained, a 13.6 per cent increase over 2016’s figure.
Statistics from the Vietnam Border Guard showed that the amount of synthetic drugs and marijuana seized last year through the border of Vietnam and Laos respectively increased seven times and twice compared with 2016.
Cocaine was transported from South America to Cambodia and transferred to Vietnam along the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
Vu Xuan Vien, head of the Police Advisory Force under the Ministry of Public Security, attributed the prevalence of drug-trafficking cases to inadequate coordination between police, border guard, customs and coast guard forces.
The sharing of information relating to suspects and a shortage of forces on duty at key points poses challenges to anti-trafficking work.
Nguyen Khanh Quang, deputy head of the anti-smuggling investigation department under the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) acknowledged the problem, telling the Hai Quan (Custom) newspaper that several cases have been referred by the GDVC to the police for clarification. However, resolving these cases took a long time, causing concerns for enterprises.
Some local police delayed or even refused to provide information or evidence in many cases, he said.
In the meantime, as a rule, within 24 hours of detecting an incident, customs officers have to finish all procedures and hand information over to local police.
The lack of clear regulations on which police force will receive information and evidence from customs units was also a hindrance.
“The biggest difficulty for the customs force is that they don’t have the authority to investigate drug trafficking cases or criminally charge violator,” Quang said.
Predicting that cross-border crimes relating to drugs would become complicated and rise in the near future, Vien said leaders of police, customs, border guards and coast guard forces should work together more regularly.
It was necessary to create a collaboration mechanism to fight drug trafficking at borders and at sea, he said.
Each force should take the initiative in setting plans, assigning duties to each officer and work together in investigation cases on key routes, particularly from Golden Triangle, covering Laos.
Vien proposed that forces should collaborate with local governments in teaching residents to recognise the harm of drugs, obey laws against drug trafficking crimes and not to take part in drug-trafficking rings.
To improve the efficiency of drug prevention and anti-smuggling efforts, Quang suggested strengthening collaboration between the Police General Department and General Department of Vietnam Customs.
It was necessary to review the operations and training courses should be held regularly to enhance officers’ professional skills, he said.
Quang also proposed the Police General Department include a regulation on protecting national security in collaboration between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Security.