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Cablegate: Taiwan-Vietnam Drug Cooperation

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. Hanoi 117 B. Hanoi 362

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The drug connection between Vietnam and
Taiwan is a "chronic, but not large" problem." A large
heroin seizure in Taiwan last May was "unprecedented."
Relations between the Taiwan Ministry of
Justice/Investigative Bureau (MOJ) liaison officer based in
Ho Chi Minh City and his GVN counterparts are "good," but
cooperation is limited. There is no apparent connection
between growing tourism and marriage links and drugs. END


2. (SBU) Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office Special
Assistant Chiang Tsung Cheng told poloff on February 13 that
while there was "definitely" a drug connection between
Vietnam and Taiwan, the problem was "much less serious than
the one we have with the PRC." (Note: Despite Chiang's
official title, he said that he was actually from the Taiwan
MOJ/Investigative Bureau liaison. While based in Ho Chi
Minh City, Chiang spends a "few days" in Hanoi about every
two months. End note.) Chiang called the seizure of 60
kilograms of heroin in Kaohsiung Harbor coming from Vietnam
last May "significant." However, he noted that it was "not
that large" compared to a 200 kilogram heroin seizure in
2000 that Taiwan authorities traced back to the PRC. Taiwan
authorities viewed the seizure from Vietnam as "very unusual
- really unprecedented," he asserted. Taiwan was also
increasingly concerned about heroin shipped directly from
Cambodia to Taiwan, Chiang added.

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3. (SBU) Chiang said that there was a "slow, but steady"
trickle of heroin coming into Taiwan from Vietnam. He noted
that the heroin does not transit Taiwan; rather, it is
consumed locally. While he declined to estimate how much
heroin entered Taiwan from Vietnam or how much was seized,
Chiang said that Taiwan law enforcement authorities were
"quite certain" that the heroin originated in the Golden
Triangle, transited Vietnam, and made its way to Taiwan
either via sea or sometimes via air couriers.

4. (SBU) Note: DEA's Hanoi country office views the
Taiwan connection more seriously than Chiang, noting that
Taiwanese nationals organized the only clandestine lab ever
seized in Vietnam. In addition, DEA regional investigations
suggest that Taiwanese groups are involved in significant
drug trafficking in and through Vietnam. End note


5. (SBU) Chiang said that while relations with counterpart
GVN law enforcement authorities were "good," there had been
little genuine cooperation on the Vietnamese side. Without
going into specifics, Chiang said that over the past 16
months, he had provided "good information quite a few times"
to counterparts, but he claimed to have "no idea" what, if
anything, they did with it. He added that he had "never
received feedback" from GVN law enforcement authorities on
what, if any, results had been achieved with information he
passed to them.

6. (SBU) Chiang said that when he did have information
worth passing along, he was "reluctant" to pass it to the
counternarcotics police; he said that he preferred to either
work through Interpol or the Standing Office of Drug Control
because "relations are better with those offices." However,
Chiang added that, whenever possible, he most preferred to
provide actionable information back to Taiwan authorities,
whom he trusts to follow through, make an arrest and/or
seizure, and give him a full and accurate accounting. "In
general, our policy is to make arrests in Taiwan," he added.
During his tenure, he has not attempted to engage GVN law
enforcement authorities in any joint investigations.


7. (SBU) In recent years there has been a major surge in
tourism from Taiwan as well as in marriages of Vietnamese
women to Taiwanese men (ref b). Chiang said that
authorities had not seen any significant increase in the
drug trade despite the growing amount of "people traffic"
between Vietnam and Taiwan. Chiang added that there had not
been any "documented cases" of marriages leading to drug
connections or smuggling.


8. (SBU) Chiang's comments regarding law enforcement
cooperation were much in line with what those of other
foreign law enforcement liaison officers based in Vietnam,
including DEA (ref a). The Taiwan official's experience
confirms our assessment that the lack of Ministry of Public
Security cooperation with DEA is not directed only at the
USG; others are also frustrated in their efforts to engage
the GVN in meaningful law enforcement cooperation.

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