Viet Nam News
ĐẮK NÔNG — An investigation into the production of “dirty” peppercorn in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Nông has to led arrest warrants being issued for five suspects, Phan Thanh Hải, head of the provincial People’s Procuracy, confirmed on Tuesday.
Đắk Nông Province Police have arrested Phan Thị Dung, Lê Thị Hồng Thơ, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Loan, Nguyễn Xuân Bảo and Trần Văn Tuấn, Loan’s driver.
According to their testimonies, Phan Thị Dung’s family-run company in the southern province of Bình Phước started mixing black powder extracted from used batteries, rocks, dirt and low quality coffee beans into the peppercorn they were producing in 2015.
Dung’s partners accepted an impurity percentage in the peppercorn of 1 to 2 per cent, so she added other “ingredients” to make greater profits.
Dung bought the raw materials from Lê Thị Hồng Thơ in Đắk Song District and instructed Nguyễn Thị Thanh Loan and Nguyễn Xuân Bảo in Đắk R’Lấp District to produce the final mixture.
On April 22, Đắk Nông Province Police seized nine tonnes of peppercorns at Dung’s factory in Bình Phước District, and analysis found that the mixture contained 18.34 per cent of impurities including a toxic chemical called manganese dioxide.
Prolonged manganese exposure can poison and damage the brain, and the effects are irreversible and can lead to hallucinations and death.
The accused also admitted that from 2015 to 2018, they sold up to 400 tonnes of the mixture for VNĐ9,000 to 12,000 (39 cents to 51 cents) per kilogramme, of which Thơ took a cut of VNĐ1,000 to 3,000.
However, due to a lack of evidence, law enforcement officers can only charge them for the nine tonnes seized from Dung’s factory. — VNS