|Toothpaste tubes containing drugs, including ecstasy, ketamine, and cocaine, in the carry-on luggage of four female attendants of Vietnam Airlines at HCM City's Tân Sơn Nhất Airport on March 16. Photo courtesy of HCM City's Customs|
HÀ NỘI – The Narcotics Investigation Police Department, under the Ministry of Public Security, has issued a warning about the increasingly intricate nature of drug trafficking via air routes.
Citizens have been advised to exercise caution and stay informed about the tactics utilised by drug traffickers when using air travel to avoid falling prey to illicit drug transportation.
According to the department, drug traffickers have established smuggling networks overseas to transport drugs into Việt Nam. The organisers of these operations are primarily Vietnamese individuals residing, studying, or working abroad, who then collaborate with partners within the country to smuggle drugs into Việt Nam.
Statistics from the department demonstrate that from 2020 to March 2023, police and customs officials have uncovered numerous cases of illegal drug smuggling through air routes from European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and France, into Việt Nam.
The police and customs have detected 276 cases and seized 1,359kg of synthetic drugs, 17,723kg of ketamine, 29,24kg of heroin, 61kg of crystal meth, 13,73kg of cocaine, 375,8kg of marijuana, and 11kg of synthetic cannabis.
The amount of drugs seized in recent months has been reaching hundreds of kilograms per case. In the first three months of this year, ten drug trafficking cases through Nội Bài International Airport have been detected, 21 suspects have been arrested, and 592kg of synthetic drugs have been seized.
The methods and tactics used by drug traffickers on air routes are complicated and include exploiting tourism, consignment sales at airports, or logistics companies to transport drugs into Việt Nam, it said.
Explaining the development of drug crimes on air routes, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Đoàn Tất Nam, Deputy Head of the department’s Division 7, said synthetic drugs are manufactured in Europe and illegally smuggled to the global market.
With modern machines, advanced technology, high-quality drugs, low prices, and the convenience of air transport from Europe to Việt Nam, drug traffickers take advantage of air routes to smuggle drugs into Hà Nội’s Nội Bài Airport and HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất Airport.
It is a very profitable trade. In Europe, the price of drugs is very cheap, while in Việt Nam, the price is up to ten times higher. High profits still drive traffickers to find ways to transport drugs into Việt Nam, he said.
Moreover, international cooperation in the fight against drug crimes on air routes has not been timely and comprehensive. The awareness of some air passengers is still limited, which leads to them being exploited by drug traffickers to transport drugs through air routes.
The Narcotics Investigation Police Department has collaborated with customs and local police forces in key areas such as Hà Nội and HCM City to discuss solutions to prevent and combat drug crimes.
Nam said apart from education on illegal drug smuggling on air routes, it is necessary to reduce the demand for drugs.
The Ministry of Public Security has assigned units to eliminate and disable illegal drug use sites and prevent the formation of new ones. Drug addiction treatment must be done well to limit addicts in society and manage them to prevent relapse.
Moreover, law enforcement forces must coordinate with international drug prevention and control agencies to identify key routes to combat drug crimes, uncover drug trafficking rings, arrest masterminds and cut off the financial source of criminal activities.
Nam said that detecting drugs on the domestic market isn't enough, as the investigation is unlikely to uncover how the drugs entered the country.
Nam warned that drug traffickers have many methods and tactics to transport drugs illegally by air. Criminals use social media to befriend women in difficult situations and promise them trips abroad. During the free travel, the criminal hands over luggage or goods containing drugs to the women to transport.
Drug traffickers also take advantage of inexperienced overseas students or Vietnamese labourers, the elderly, the disabled, or those with young children who need help carrying their luggage to transport drugs.
The department advises airline passengers to manage their luggage carefully. Passengers should refuse to send or take care of luggage for strangers.
When sending or selling checked baggage, passengers must check the sender information and the origin of goods and inform the police about goods showing abnormal signs, it said. – VNS