Ngo Thai Dung, Director of the Viet Nam Border Guard Division tasked with fighting drug-related crime, tells Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside Today) that the public is a very important ally of the agency.
Can you tell our readers about the situation of drug-related crimes in the recent past, especially in the border areas?
The situation in Viet Nam in these first six months is quite complicated. Viet Nam has become a consumer market and also a transit point for drug traffickers going to other countries. Drug-related crimes are most serious in border areas, particularly in the Viet Nam – Laos border areas.
Drug traffickers have even built "factories" to mix and produce drugs and synthetic heroin to meet the different demands of buyers. Drugs smuggled into Viet Nam will be sold in the country and transported to China. In China, heroin will be "processed" into synthetic heroin and transported back to Viet Nam for consumption.
The rock form of heroin trafficking is also on the rise.
During the first half of the year, the border guards, in co-operation with drug prevention forces of neighbouring countries, busted 600 cases, arrested 800 suspects and confiscated nearly 600 packets of heroin (200 kilogrammes), 40,000 pills of synthetic drugs and 20 kilogrammes of crystal meth.
What are the specific plans the Viet Nam Border Guards have to address the problem?
We will maintain our current measures, like using police dogs and enhancing patrolling along the border in all areas and the border gates. Besides, we will mobilise support of reputed individuals among ethnic nationalities and groups in this fight. They will play a very important role in consultation with local authorities and the entire political system.
We also hope that the Government will soon have specific policies to encourage the crime prevention forces for drug-related offences working under the Border Guards.
How do you evaluate the role of people, particularly heads of villages or reputable individuals of ethnic nationalities and groups?
We always need the support of people in every fight against criminals. Especially in the fight against drug traffickers, people are our eyes and ears. We always keep in mind that we have to communicate well to encourage and mobilise people's support.
Every year, we conduct health check-ups for people in border areas, providing free medicines and also educating their children. What we get in return is their continuous support.
I think every person, especially heads of villages or reputable individuals of ethnic nationalities and groups, is not only an important element in the fight against drugs traffickers but in other fields like protecting the country's borders, or other kinds of crime prevention.
A message of hope
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the 2014 World Drug Report yesterday to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
This year, UNODC's theme for the day offers a message of hope: drug use disorders are preventable and treatable.
UNODC's report reveals that drug use is rife around the world with around 243 million individuals or five per cent of the world's population aged 15-64 having used illicit drugs last year.
Zhuldyz Akisheva, country manager of UNODC Viet Nam, said that combined measures were needed to better tackle drug problems including law enforcement, reduced drug supply and demand, proper healthcare services and reduced social discrimination against drug users.
She said that heroin remained the most widely used illicit drug in Viet Nam and that the country was increasingly being targeted as a transit place for the trafficking of large quantities of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals to international markets.
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam said that Viet Nam was implementing multi-choice solutions for drug users including compulsory rehabilitation at public or private centres or community-based treatment in combination with medical and social therapy. — VNS