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Airport faces obstacles in curbing drug trafficking

Update: January, 11/2014 - 08:52
Customs staff check passengers' luggage via a screening system in Noi Bai International Airport. Lack of facilities and police dogs caused the customs agency to fail to prevent drug trafficking many times last year. — VNA/VNS Photo Pham Hau

HA NOI (VNS)— Inadequate facilities and a lack of police dogs have been blamed for customs officials failing to prevent drug trafficking at the Noi Bai International Airport in 2013.

Airport and customs officials arrived at that conclusion at a meeting held on Thursday in Ha Noi, where the airport is based.

Data from the city's Customs Department showed that only one instance of drug trafficking was discovered by the airport's customs officials last year.

In contrast, 13 instances of drug trafficking were uncovered by customs officials at the HCM City-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport last year.

The department said the Noi Bai International Airport's customs agency currently shares its luggage screening system with the aviation security agency.

That creates problems in detecting banned substances because each agency screens for different objects, the department noted.

In addition, several customs officials lack the experience and capability to search for and prevent drug trafficking, exacerbating the problem, according to the department.

The deputy head of the department, Nguyen Van Hong, noted that the drug traffickers are also becoming more sophisticated in their methods to conceal drugs.

They are aware that customs officials seldom check the baggage of transit passengers, which is a loophole that is possibly being exploited by drug traffickers, he added.

In addition, the co-operation among the Ministry of Public Security's Drug Crimes Investigation Police Department, the Ha Noi police and the airport customs officials to prevent drug trafficking has not been strong, he revealed.

The deputy head of Viet Nam Customs, Nguyen Van Can, has ordered the city's customs department to actively exchange information relating to passengers and flights with the airlines to improve the surveillance for possible drug trafficking in 2014.

The government issued a decree in 2011, which stipulated that airlines are responsible for providing information about passengers to the authorised agencies before they enter Viet Nam, Can added.

The decree permits the customs agency to easily access passenger information from the airlines in advance, he noted.

While screening the baggage at the airport, customs officials must constantly check for banned substances and goods, he added.

Colonel Nguyen Dich Nam, deputy head of the Drug Crimes Investigation Police Department, pointed out that customs officials must constantly update themselves on the new methods used by drug traffickers to conceal and smuggle drugs to prevent drug trafficking more effectively.

The drug traffickers are believed to have frequently used the airport warehouses to transport drugs, he added.

On December 7, the customs officials at the Noi Bai International Airport seized 3.6kg of cocaine that was being smuggled into Viet Nam by a Filipino passenger.

The contraband, including 18 packets of cocaine, was hidden in the luggage of Kamacho Sillo Emmanul, 38.

The alleged suspect was on a flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The flight made a stop-over at Singapore and later arrived at the airport. — VNS


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