Deputy Head of Viet Nam Customs' Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department Nguyen Van Quy spoke to Hai Quan newspaper about how Viet Nam is trying to prevent drug trafficking at border gates.
What difficulties have customs officials been facing in the fight against drug trafficking?
Although a specialist team for anti-drug trafficking has been set up and well funded, the effectiveness of the work conducted by the customs sector has fallen short of expectations.
A major hurdle is that current laws limit the power of customs officers to fully detect, examine and respond to drug trafficking cases through the country's border gates.
Furthermore, constant staff rotation among units has meant that customs officials have had little time to devote to their job and build up their experience, with some underestimated the task.
Several units of the customs agency have failed to apply professional skills when checking goods, resulting in the limited number of cases detected and dealt with by the customs forces in their area of operation.
The specialised anti-drug teams have only been stationed at the General Customs Office and other key customs departments. In other areas, the work is being done by other forces who are of course not qualified or equipped to fulfil their tasks.
What has been done to improve the capacity of the anti-drug teams?
The customs agency has ordered its units to strictly inspect import-export goods, especially temporarily imported goods awaiting re-export. They will also pay more attention to goods sent as gifts and goods sent by express service.
Customs staff are now also collecting more information relating to drug trafficking rings in areas believed to be drug hotspots.
Additionally, the customs agency has focused on training and employing qualified officers to strengthen the teams, with every individual expected to be capable and devoted to the job.
What specific measures are being put in place?
In the short term, customs teams are co-operating closely and exchanging information between each other and with other relevant agencies and international anti-drug trafficking organisations. This is expected to pay dividends in the search for drug criminals.
The Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department has also been asked to conduct more inspections and assess the professional ability of members of its key units.
The department schedules to fight drug trafficking in key areas, including border provinces, seaports and international airports.
We are also cracking down on the use of precursor chemicals by companies to manufacture drugs.
A review of legal documents has been made so that they can be amended in line with the current situation. — VNS