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Firecracker smuggling by boat uncovered in coastal Quang Ninh

Update: February, 01/2013 - 09:52
An officer of the Mong Cai City Police in the northern province of Quang Ninh inspects illegally transported fireworks. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet
QUANG NINH (VNS)— Firecracker smugglers are using more and more sophisticated tricks to transport banned products into Viet Nam, both overland and by sea, the vice director of Quang Ninh Province's Police Department Colonel Do Van Luc has warned.

Firecrackers were used for many years to celebrate Tet (lunar new year) in Viet Nam, but production, trade and consumption was banned in 1995 because of the danger of serious injuries and burns to people.

However, every year there are reports of illegal firecracker smuggling and subsequent accidents in the days ahead of the Tet holidays, causing a headache for law enforcers. Northern border provinces including Cao Bang, Lang Son, Ha Giang and Quang Ninh are usually hot spots for firecracker smuggling.

Colonel Luc said that firecrackers were usually smuggled overland, but efforts by police, border guards and market watch officials on land had led to smugglers changing their approach and travelling by sea.

Last October, police in the province's Quang Yen Town seized nearly two tonnes of illegal firecrackers, the biggest ever volume uncovered.

The goods had been transported by waterway from China to Viet Nam and then by car to the domestic market. Four men were sentenced to up to 15 years imprisonment.

Last November, one person died and two others were injured in an explosion in Ha Long City. Investors found a huge amount of firecrackers had been stored in the victims' house at the time of the incident.

Since the middle of last month, the provincial authorities have discovered 29 cases involving 32 suspects and seized about 600 kilos of firecracker and over 1,200 firecrackers balls of all kinds.

The provincial police prosecuted 10 cases and 14 suspects for storing, trading and transporting the banned products.

The police are closely co-operating with judicial offices to punish violators, Luc said, adding that the mobile courts were organised at localities to better deliver warnings to potential perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the Sai Gon Giai phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper quoted Dao Cong Ngoc, vice head of Coc Nam Border Guard Station in Lang Son, as saying that wholesale traders often bought cheap firecrackers in China, hired local porters to carry them across the border and then sold them at much higher prices in the Vietnamese market.

"The high price of firecrackers drives the smuggling," Ngoc said, adding that since last October, border guards and customs officers set up check points along borderlines even in forests to detect smugglers.

Major General Tran Van Ve, deputy head of the Police General Department for Administrative Management of Social Order and Safety, said that firecracker smuggling, trading and use had not reduced significantly despite concerted efforts to fight the problem.

He warned that if smuggling was not controlled properly, it could lead to a more serious problem – the production of firecrackers being resumed in Viet Nam. — VNS

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