Cablegate: Largest Drug Bust Ever in Vietnam (Part Ii)

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: HANOI 01504

1. (U) SUMMARY. Some of Vietnam's state-controlled
media have reported that a second comprehensive search of
the same truck seized on June 9 led to the recent
discovery of another 33 kilograms of heroin, in addition
to the 40 kilograms uncovered during the first
inspection. A senior Customs official has speculated
that Provincial Government authorities might be involved
with the traffickers. END SUMMARY


2. (U) According to the Ho Chi Minh City-based "Tuoi
Tre" newspaper (owned by the Communist Young League) and
police newspapers, a second, more complete search was
conducted June 25 on the truck initially seized by Quang
Tri counternarcotics police on June 9 (ref a). Local
authorities found an additional 33 kilograms of heroin
hidden under 10 tons of scrap metal. Together with the
first seizure, officers have so far uncovered a total of
73 kilograms of heroin in this one shipment. (Note:
During all of 2002, GVN law enforcement entities seized
only 55 kilograms of heroin throughout the entire
country. End note). During subsequent interrogations,
the truck driver Nguyen Dinh Hoanh confessed to police
how he had hidden the drugs in the truck underneath the
scrap metal.


3. (U) Records at the Lao Bao Border gate reportedly
showed that, between May 2002 and June 2003, Hoanh made a
total of 17 trips through this border crossing, importing
"scrap metal" from Laos for various companies in Vietnam.
On the last two trips, Hoanh was transporting "scrap
metal" for Phuong Quang Trading Company, said to be owned
by Le Van Quang, described as the younger brother of
Director of Quang Tri Provincial Customs Department Le
Van Toi. Le Thanh Hien, Deputy Director of the Anti-
smuggling Department of Vietnam's General Department of
Customs, speculated publicly that Hoanh had effectively
used the Toi's name to ward off further scrutiny each
time he went through customs procedures at the border.
Hien added that he personally did not think that Toi was
involved with the trafficking, but did not rule out the
possibility of a further investigation.

4. (U) Comment: No one comes out looking very good out
of this case, which should have been a relative triumph
for the understaffed and underfunded provincial
counternarcotics police. The clear implication of
complicity by GVN officials, and the likelihood that
personal rivalries may have led to a tip-off about the
truck and its contents may explain why this case did not
receive broader coverage in the Vietnamese media.

© Scoop Media

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