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Cablegate: New Counternarcotics Successes

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002320

SIPDIS

USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ABLAGG//
DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; INL/AAE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM PREL PINS VM CNARC
SUBJECT: NEW COUNTERNARCOTICS SUCCESSES

REF: HANOI 01885

1. (U) SUMMARY. A prominent drug trial in Hanoi concluded
on August 29 with a variety of harsh punishments, including
four death sentences. According to government prosecutors,
this was an exceptionally serious case, involving many
people, in a drug-trafficking ring between Lai Chau province
and Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh City police separately undertook
what they labeled Vietnam's largest-ever drug bust,
arresting suspects believed responsible for smuggling in
excess of 462 kilograms of heroin since the beginning of the
year. These cases are characteristic of the higher tempo of
drug operations this year. END SUMMARY.

-----------------------------
HANOI, INCREASINGLY A HOTSPOT
-----------------------------

2. (U) According to press reports, during the first half of
2003, Hanoi drug law enforcement forces investigated 916
cases involving 1,258 people, accounting for 13 percent of
cases nationwide. Deputy Director of Hanoi Police, Senior
Colonel Do Kim Tuyen, publicly pointed to three factors that
led to the increase in arrests: (1) Effective use of
informants; (2) Elevated priority of drug cases and
exhortation of counternarcotics officers to do more and be
accountable for results; and (3) An accelerated reward
system (financial and professional) for counternarcotics
officers. According to Bui Xuan Hieu, Head of the
International Cooperation and Project Management Division of
the Standing Office for Drugs Control of Vietnam (SODC),
Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular have witnessed an
increase in investigations, arrests, and prosecutions in
2003; this up curve is expected to continue for the
remainder of the year.

-----------
HANOI TRIAL
-----------

3. (U) Following a late 2000 arrest of Pham Van Thanh,
police were able to go on to arrest "ringleader" Chu Van
Hieu and other accomplices in early 2002. A total of 20
defendants stood trial in Hanoi in late August 2003. The
Hanoi People's Court handed down four death sentences, seven
life imprisonments, two prison sentences of 16 years and 7
years -- for Deputy Chief of the Hanoi's Hoan Kiem District
Counternarcotics Office Nguyen Manh Hung and Officer Nguyen
Viet Ha of the same office -- as well as 12 months
(suspended) for a prison superintendent, and various other
long prison sentences. The defendants were found guilty of
trafficking about 13 kilograms of heroin and 307 kilograms
of opium as well as taking US$32,000 in bribes. According
to Supreme People's Procuracy officials (government
prosecutors), this is an "exceptionally serious" case with
many people involved in trafficking drugs through Lai Chau
province (on the Laos-China border) and on to Hanoi for
consumption.

------------
LONG AN CASE
------------

4. (U) The Long An Provincial People's Court closed a
major case also on August 29. Twenty-nine defendants were
convicted of trafficking 35 kilograms of heroin and carrying
illegally US$ 264,200 across the border. Penalties included
five death sentences and assorted long prison sentences.

-------------------------------
RECORD BUST IN HO CHI MINH CITY
-------------------------------

5. (U) According to SDOC section head Hieu, Ho Chi Minh
City Counternarcotics Police recently encountered what is
believed to be Vietnam's biggest-ever bust. Police arrested
eight people on charges of smuggling a record amount of 462
kilograms of heroin since early this year. According to Ho
Chi Minh City Counternarcotics Police, the eight traffickers
included the Chief of Nghe An province's Tuong Duong
District Counternarcotics Police. The group smuggled the
heroin from Laos through Nghe An onto southern provinces for
consumption. The police suspect the traffickers are linked
with other organized criminal syndicates in Asia. The case
is now undergoing further investigation.

6. (U) Comment: These recent cases are remarkable by
Vietnamese standards due to their scale, as well as the
unfortunate but not surprising involvement of
counternarcotics officials. The publicity given to the
cases reflects the GVN's awareness that corruption is as
much of a problem here as narcotics trafficking, as well as
its determination to demonstrate success on both fronts to
the public. In a perfect world, this increased priority
would be reflected in flexibility in the GVN's attitude
towards cooperation with the USG on drug issues. Embassy,
especially DEAN Hanoi Country Office, will use these events
as opportunities to raise the cooperation issue again with
MPS and other GVN agencies.
BURGHARDT

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