Updated  
December, 10 2013 08:50:00

Airport security officer at fault for failing to spot smuggled heroin

A security officer at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City is being held responsible for the failed detection of 229-kilos of heroin flown to Taiwan last month.— Photo xaluan

HA NOI (VNS)— A security officer at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City is being held responsible for the failed detection of 229-kilos of heroin flown to Taiwan last month.

In an official answer to the media last Saturday, the Ministry of Transport admitted that the officer in charge of security screenings had failed to make direct examinations after discovering unusual appearances of goods containing heroin. He was blamed for subjective evaluation and weakness in professional skills, which led to this incident occurring.

The heroin, worth US$300 million, was hidden in 12 empty stereo speakers, which were transferred from their first location at Penang Airport in Malaysia and loaded onto a China Airlines cargo aircraft heading to Taiwan at Tan Son Nhat Airport on November 16. The goods were classified into group that did not need customs checks, but only screening by the airport security staff. Shortly after the plane landed at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, at 3.20am on November 17, the speakers were inspected by authorities.

The transport ministry confirmed that the X-ray screening machine worked properly and the security group on duty, including one chief and two officers, received documents and guided security procedures, while another performed the screening, were full authorised.

The statement said that the screening officer would receive proper punishment, while the head of the group would be criticised because of the case.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam (CAAV) was also asked to draw experiences and review, as well as enhance its work on co-operation in fighting drugs and control under the Ministry of Public Security.

Last Thursday, CAAV head Lai Xuan Thanh officially admitted the mistakes in the case, but said that it was not the fault of the security staff, as they had followed correct procedures for detecting explosives and dangerous matters, as well as eliminating items that might effect the flight's safety, according to the Dan Tri online newspaper.

Thanh added that the current Law on Civil Aviation did not regulate security staff to implement screenings for drugs.

He further claimed that though his department had signed co-operation agreements on drug smuggling, the staff had yet to receive training in tactics.

"It was the fault of the CAAV system for not implementing the training plan," he was quoted as saying by Dan Tri.

Earlier last week, the HCM City customs agency said it was clear in the heroin smuggling case since customs officers had followed correct procedures. — VNS

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