Cablegate: Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk During Drug

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

1. (U) SUMMARY. June is "Drug Awareness Month" in Vietnam,
and this year's campaign was billed as a success. Typically
energetic government-encouraged anti-drug publicity events
were accompanied by atypically successful drug trafficking
enforcement operations throughout the country, with several
provinces recording "biggest ever" busts and other provinces
concluding trials in high-profile drug cases. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) According to General Department of Police, Ministry
of Public Security, in the first six months of 2004,
authorities cracked over 5,600 drug cases, cleared 350
"complicated hotspots", arrested 8,758 suspects and seized
170 kilograms of heroin and 23,000 ATS tablets, an increase
of 37.5 percent over the same period last year. On the
treatment front, recidivism remains "alarmingly high -
between 95 and 98 percent", according to an official from
the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
Drug treatment centers are struggling to cope. Nguyen Vi
Hung, Director of Hanoi Department for Social Evils
Prevention, said that the city was forced to cease accepting
addicts into its rehabilitation centers temporarily due to
overcrowding. Addiction among government employees is also
an emerging problem. In Tua Chua district, Dien Bien
province, police said that 24 cadres were addicted to drugs,
including 8 from the district's education and training
department, 7 from the health care center, and 1 from the
district people's committee.


3. (U) In response to the UN's "World Anti-Drug Day" June
26, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai declared in June 2001 that
the month of June each year would be dedicated to
intensified counternarcotics activities. During the month,
the GVN orchestrates a "Drug Awareness Week" to coincide
with the UN's Anti-Drug Day. This year, according to Bui
Xuan Hieu, Director of the International Cooperation and
Project Management Division in the Standing Office for Drug
Control (SODC) of the National Committee for HIV/AIDS, Drugs
Control and Social Evils Prevention, SODC had coordinated
various counternarcotics activities throughout the country.
Hieu claimed that the month draws due attention from the
public, leaders, and "brings about big law enforcement


4. (U) Various counternarcotics activities took place from
June 21-26 throughout the country, including meetings,
exhibitions, street parades, contests, and signing of
pledges and coordination plans, according to SODC Police
Lieutenant Tran Viet Trung. Trung said that these events
were well attended by Vietnamese senior officials and
leaders. Beyond propaganda events, the action month also
resulted in many cases and arrests, noted Trung. Many of
these activities were covered by Vietnam Television (VTV)
and Radio (VOV), and highlighted in national and local

5. (U) In Hanoi, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem,
along with Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Public
Security, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, and
representatives from mass organizations, civil associations
and the UNODC Country Office attended a large rally on June
26. Around 5,000 students from 29 universities and colleges
in Hanoi Noi , with the message "say no to drugs", attended
the meeting. Deputy Prime Minister Khiem stressed that the
Government wouldwill "mobilize the entire political system
and nation to prevent and combat the scourge of drugs."
Meanwhile, in Thai Nguyen province, about 1,000 government
workers took part in a street parade. Mr. Do Duc Ngo, Vice
President, General Labor Confederation, Major General Pham
Van Duc, Deputy Director General, General Department of
Police, Ministry of Public Security, and Mr. Nguyen Thanh
Kinh, Vice Chairman of Thai Nguyen Party Committee and
Chairman of Thai Nguyen People's Council, attended the
event. The leaders called on authorities at all levels to
pay more attention to the drug fight among government
workers. On this occasion, the leaders sent the
participants a message "do not discriminate against addicts,
be with them, educate and help them to stabilize their
lives, quit drugs and return to normal life."
Simultaneously, in Ha Tay province, more than 1,000 youth
union members gathered at a biglarge awareness meeting in
Son Tay town. During the day, all the union members signed
anti-drug commitments, and distributed leaflets. The
province now has 86 anti-drug clubs, 400 anti-criminal
mailboxes (for residents to report crimes such as drug use)
and 20 "friends help friends" clubs. In Danang Nang, the
city youth union held a festival with the message "Danang
Nang youth together push back drug crimes and social evils."
According to Mr. Nguyen Thanh Quang, president of Danang
Nang youth union, 800 members attended the event.

6. (U) In the common effortWorking together, two famous
photographers opened an exhibition of 500 photos featuring
drug addiction and treatment. Separately, the Voice of
Vietnam launched a competition for short stories about drug
abuse. To highlight the "humanity" of drug users, VTV
transmitted an exclusive program of addicts' music and dance
festivals, sport and games in several drug treatment
centers. To facilitate the nation's propaganda campaign,
the Youth Union dispatched volunteers on a five-day mission
to different drug treatment centers to disseminate anti-drug
information and support recovering drug addicts. Also,
Directors from Education and Training Departments in Hanoi,
neighboring provinces and five universities signed a
resolution on drug abuse prevention in all education
institutions. Additionally, all of Danang Nang University's
youth union members and students signed non-drug use



7. (U) According to the "People's Police" newspaper, on
June 3 Ho Chi Minh City counternarcotics police arrested
twenty members of a drug ring. The police seized 20.3
kilograms of heroin, USD 57,770, 14 motorbikes, 16 mobile
phones, one car and six6 houses. The ring trafficked heroin
from Nghe An to Ho Chi Minh City for distribution to "sales
agents." According to Colonel Le Thanh Liem, Ho Chi Minh
City Police Department, this is a big ring that has
trafficked heroin from border provinces to the city for
consumption. The bust had such an effect on supply that the
retail price doubled, noted Colonel Liem.

8. (U) In another case, on June 16, Ho Chi Minh City
Supreme People's Court handed down 9nine death sentences,
one life sentence and other lengthy sentences to drug
organization head Ngo Duc Minh and his accomplices. The
defendants were convicted of trafficking about 36 kilograms
of heroin, 50 kilograms of cannabis, 6,000 EstacyEcstasy
tablets and 15 kilograms of synthetic drugs between 1993 and
2002. According to press reports, this is a transnational
case connecting Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan and the

9. (U) Additionally, Ho Chi Minh City People's Court tried
an ATS case in early May. Chung Quoc Minh was sentenced to
death, and 20 other accomplices also stood trial. According
to police investigation records, between 1999 and 2001,
Chung's organization trafficked 14,200 ATS tablets. The
Labor newspaper reported that this was Vietnam's largest
ever ATS case.


10. (U) During a "first instance" trial (i.e., subject to
appeal), Tay Ninh's people's court handed down 6six death
and 3three life sentences on June 18 in a transnational drug
case, according to press reports. The offenders were
convicted of trafficking drugs across the border with
Cambodia. The initial seizure on May 28 was 3.3 kilograms
of heroin. Between June 2001 and May 2004, the syndicate
trafficked 103.5 kilograms of heroin and 606 ecstasy
tablets. According to press reports, this the biggest drug
case in the province. Tay Ninh is considered one of
Vietnam's drug "hotspots" due to its location on the border
with Cambodia and the relative ease with which goods,
including narcotics, are smuggled there.


11. (U) Police said that they arrested 8eight people for
trafficking 79.6 kilograms of heroin into the country from
Laos. The seizure was made on June 26 after the police
stopped two trucks at Cha Lo international border gate in
Quang Binh province, said a local counternarcotics
policeman. Two drivers -- Hoang Van Tinh and Nguyen Van
Duyet -- and six passengers were arrested. The drugs were
hidden among smuggled automobile spare parts, fabric, toys
and scrap metal. Police also seized a large amount of cash
in US dollars, Vietnam dong, Laos kip and Thai baht, in
addition to a loaded handgun. This was the biggest seizure
ever in Quang Binh, according to SODC


12. (U) Colonel Vo Trong Thanh, Deputy Director of Nghe An
Police Department, revealed on June 12 that the provincial
counternarcotics police arrested 11 drug traffickers,
including 4four foreigners, and seized 7seven kilograms of
heroin in a transnational network headquartered in Laos.
According to Colonel Thanh, the offenders had trafficked
approximately 88 kilograms before they were caught. The
"People's Police" Newspaper ranks this transnational drug
case as the most important in Vietnam because of the
cumulative volume of trafficked narcotics. In the first six
months of 2004, Nghe An provincial counternarcotics police
detected 290 cases with 349 offenders, and seized 23.892
kilograms of heroin, 12.556 kilograms of opium and about
5,000 ATS tablets. The province's border with Laos makes it
a haven for traffickers.


13. (U) According to Vietnam News Agency (VNA), on June 7
the provincial police cracked a major drug case in the
Northwestern province of Son La. This is the biggest haul
in the province since early this year. Police arrested two
offenders and seized about 3.1 kilograms of heroin in Tan
Phong commune, Phu Yen district. The two traffickers are
Tran Van Kien, 29, and Tran Quang Thang, 35, from Hanoi.
Provincial police and the Ministry of Public Security are
further investigating the case. Earlier, provincial police
seized 2two kilograms of heroin in two separate smaller
cases. In the first two months of 2004, Son La provincial
police arrested 215 drug traffickers in 85 cases, seized 3.7
kilograms of heroin, 6.6 kilograms of opium, 1,677 ATS
tablets and confiscated other equipment. According to SODC,
Son La is another of Vietnam's hotspots. Drugs come in
through the border with Laos, and travel down Highway 6 (AKA
"the Heroin Highway") to Hanoi and other destinations for


14. (U) Between July 12 and 20, Haiphong People's court
tried the city's biggest ever drug case, according to the
People's Police Newspaper. The newspaper reported that 20
out of 23 suspects standing trial could be sentenced to
death. tThe first member of the gang was arrested on April
30, 2003, in Le Chan district, Haiphong City. Before their
arrest, the suspects had trafficked about 30 kilograms of
heroin, newspaper reports said.


15. (U) Recently, Phu Tho police, in coordination with their
counterparts in Son La province, detecteduncovered a huge
drug case. According to press reports, Phu Tho police
arrested Kim Van Phuong in November 2003 on his way from Son
La to Hanoi, and seized 1.3 kilograms of heroin and 1.3
kilograms of opium. Uusing information from this first
suspect, in July 2004 the police made 23 more arrests. The
suspects confessed to trafficking about 30 kilograms of
heroin thus far, through 7seven provinces and cities, press
reports said. In addition, the police confiscated 7seven
cars, USD 45,000, and 9nine mobile phones. Currently, Phu
Tho police are coordinating with the Counternarcotics
police, Ministry of Public Security, to expand the case.


16. (U) Though the usual caveats apply - Vietnam's drug
forces are understaffed, poorly equipped, poorly trained,
suffer from corruption, etc. - the numbers tell the clear
story that, whether by intention or coincidence, Drug Month
in Vietnam this year brought a sharp uptick in seizures and
arrests. Combined with the effective mobilization of the
powerful and pervasive official propaganda machine to spread
the anti-drug message, these seizures and arrests could make
a difference. This represents welcome good news that we can
use as a positive message to sweeten the "Vietnam can and
should be doing more on international cooperation" argument
we have been making lately.

© Scoop Media

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