|: Police found a blue oil drum in Tran Van Bui's Company, which contained 17.5kg of salbutamol. — Photo tuoitre.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — The public security ministry's environmental police department (C49) and the agriculture and rural development ministry's inspectorate smashed a salbutamol trafficking ring yesterday in HCM City after two months of investigation.
Salbutamol is a substance that is not permitted to be used in animal breeding. The medication helps in the treatment of asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and high blood potassium levels, but is misused by farmers to stimulate growth in animals and make them lean.
Yesterday morning, C49 scouts ambushed 26-year-old Vo Van Thanh, a resident of the southern Tien Giang Province, when he was buying plastic bags containing smooth white powder from E-Birds Aquaculture Ltd. Co, located in Van Kiep Street in Ward 3 of HCM City's Binh Thanh District.
A quick test showed that the powder contained 98 per cent pure salbutamol. Thanh said he was told to buy lean-meat agents for farmers while he was being hired to carry cattle food and medicines.
Thanh bought salbutamol for VND6 million (US$272) per kilogram from E-bird Company, headed by 39-year-old Tran Van Bui from the southern Soc Trang Province, and sold it to farmers in the southern Dong Nai Province and HCM City for VND7 million ($318) per kilogram.
At 3pm yesterday, the police seized 0.5kg of salbutamol being carried by 40-year-old Tran Cong Dai in Cong Lo Street in HCM City's Tan Binh District.
Dai also said he had bought the banned substance from Bui.
Police raided Bui's company and discovered 17 types of chemicals in liquid and powder forms being placed in oil drums, bottles and packs. Bui said he had bought the chemicals in Kim Bien Market in HCM City's Ward 5 with the aim of making aquaculture medicine.
The bottles did not have any trademarks and some of the thousands of packs carried "super weight gain," "fuel shrimp quickly" labels.
The functional authorities found a blue oil drum hidden in the kitchen, which contained 17.5kg of smooth white powder. It was labelled "salbutamol sulphate bp2010" and had been imported from India, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
The banned substance was reportedly purchased by Bui from a pharmacy company in Binh Thanh District for VND2 million ($90).
According to an investigator, the prohibited substance is imported by businesses and secretly sold to magnates for VND2.5 million ($114) to VND6 million ($272) per kilogram. Then it is sold to farmers for VND8 million ($363). One kilogram of salbutamol can be mixed with 10 tonnes of food.
E-Birds Aquaculture Ltd. Co registered for a licence to sell medicines, and for biological and aquaculture production in 2011.
Yesterday evening, two other traffickers, Nguyen The Hau and Le Minh Tuan, were caught while carrying 2.5kg of salbutamol.
The case is under further investigation. — VNS