|Customs staff check khat leaves seized from the smuggling ring yesterday afternoon in Hà Nội. — Photo zing.vn|Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The Drug Crime Investigation Department under the Ministry of Public Security yesterday announced that they has seized about 2.5 tonnes of khat leaves, smuggled from Africa to Việt Nam for re-exporting to other countries.
The countries that these leaves were being sent included the United States, the Netherlands and Australia, via the international postage service.
Khat leaves contain the stimulant cathinone, which are similar to amphetamines, and are prohibited in Việt Nam.
According to the Hà Nội Customs Department, the agency that closely co-operated with the Drug Crime Investigation Department to smash the khat-leaf trafficking ring, the two agencies had established a special task force in March after they were informed about the case.
In April 15, the task force discovered 36 packages of khat leaves, weighing about 545 kilos, imported from Ethiopia to Việt Nam. The task force started identifying nine persons named as receivers of the packages.
Between May 23 and June 28, the force continued to strictly monitor packages imported to Việt Nam declared as dried tea or herbs and found more khat-leaf packages.
A representative from the Drug Crime Investigation Department said the smuggling ring was very intricately managed.
The criminals took advantage of the fact that Việt Nam was a large exporter of tea leaves to declare khat leaf as tea to avoid attention of the police as well as customs, he said.
Earlier also, police from HCM City had confiscated 1.2 tonnes of khat leaves imported into Việt Nam from Africa. — VNS