|Phan Hữu Hiệu ( wearing glasses) and defendants at the trial on Wednesday.Photo dantri.com.vn|
HCM CITY — Six people who smuggled millions of dollars’ worth of heroin and methamphetamine from Laos to Việt Nam could face the death penalty.
HCM City’s People’s Procuracy has suggested the court hands down the maximum sentence possible to the defendants.
Phan Hữu Hiệu, 49, from the central province of Nghệ An, and five others all admitted the smuggling charges.
From early June to July 11, 2018, Hiệu and his accomplices trafficked and sold 132kg of heroin and 55kg of methamphetamine in the central city of Đà Nẵng and HCM City, dantri.com.vn reported.
At the time, it was seen as one of the largest drug busts in the region.
After his arrest, Hiệu told police he refused an offer to smuggle the drugs into Việt Nam, but had no choice when he ran up gambling debts.
Hiệu was the ringleader of the gang and the five others acted as accomplices, who helped him in transporting and trafficking the drugs.
Nguyễn Thành Nam, 38, from Nghệ An Province, Bùi Đình Trung, 50, also from Nghệ An Province. Lý Thơ Phước, 52, from HCM City, Phan Thạch Dinh, 65, from Quảng Trị and 62-year-old Trền Đức Trầm from Nghệ An Province all conspired with Hiệu to import the drugs.
Officials have asked the court to sentence all six of them to death.
Recommendations of life imprisonment and a sentence of 20 years behind bars have been made in the cases of three other members of the gang.
According to the indictment of the HCM City People’s Court, Hiệu got acquainted with a Lao man called Siva Tony when he was at a casino in Vientiane, Laos, in April, 2017.
In August, 2017, Siva Tony offered Hiệu the chance to join in a drug transport ring from Laos to Việt Nam, but Hiệu refused.
In April 1, 2018, Hiệu came to the casino to gamble, but he lost a large amount of money, so he had to borrow US$250,000 from Tony.
In order to repay the debt, Tony again asked Hiệu to join his drug trafficking line from Laos to Việt Nam.
In Việt Nam, those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600g of heroin or cocaine or more than 2.5kg of meth face the death penalty. — VNS