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Cablegate: Consulates Report Significant Advances in Law Enforcement

VZCZCXRO8673
RR RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0874/01 2360453
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240453Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3020
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 2132
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 3225

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000874

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, DS/ICI/CR/OCI AND DS/IP/EAP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM SOCI CVIS VM
SUBJECT: CONSULATES REPORT SIGNIFICANT ADVANCES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
COOPERATION IN HCMC

REF: (A) HCMC 00796 (B) STATE 099332

HO CHI MIN 00000874 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During the most recent law enforcement and
security coordinating meeting among Consulates General in Ho Chi
Minh City, law enforcement personnel from participating
Consulates described the atmosphere for active cooperation with
GVN authorities as difficult but considerably better than in
past years. The Australian, French and British Consulates all
reported numerous areas of improved cooperation and offered
numerous specific examples of successful cooperation in areas
such as drug enforcement and document fraud. Over the past 18
months, in particular, the improved atmosphere for cooperation
has led directly to numerous arrests both in Vietnam and abroad.
END SUMMARY.

The HCMC TransNational Crime Forum
----------------------------------
2. (U) On August 22, the Australian Consul General in Ho Chi
Minh City (HCMC) hosted the quarterly meeting of the HCMC
TransNational Crime Forum, an informal grouping consisting of
staff from a number of the larger consulates in HCMC. With its
police liaison unit staffed by two Australian Federal Police
(AFP) officers, its robust consular anti-fraud unit and its
considerable resources for law enforcement training, the
Australian Consulate General has the most active roster of law
enforcement activities of any Consulate in HCMC.

Cooperation Better -- But Still Not Great
-----------------------------------------
3. (U) The senior AFP officer in Vietnam described his country's
robust program of cooperation with the Vietnamese as having
blossomed over the past 18 months. While Hanoi remains the base
for planning national programs and policy liaison, the opening
of an AFP office in HCMC in 2004 has led to a number of
significant breakthroughs -- as well as many frustrating
opportunities missed. Over the last 18 month, in particular,
constant efforts at cooperation and training have begun to bear
fruit, despite changes in personnel on the Vietnamese side in
HCMC that have hampered progress.

4. (SBU) As examples of successful cooperation, he cited the
interdiction of 20 "internal drug couriers" or "mules" over the
past few years compared to zero as of 2003. Good cooperation on
drug enforcement cases has also led to numerous arrests of drug
dealers in both Vietnam and Australia. Thanks to both
information and training from the AFP, the Vietnamese recently
made their first ever arrest for smuggling amphetamine
precursors -- a crime they did not even understand a year ago.
In this case, a 200 kilogram package of crushed OTC cold
medicine was seized that could have been used to produce 140 kg
of illicit drugs. The GVN has also agreed to return two
Vietnamese-born Australians to Australia for prosecution and the
Australians have agreed to help prosecute other
Vietnamese-Australians in Vietnam. Both the French and British
consulates reported similar successes in cooperation aimed at
obtaining prosecutions in either Vietnam or in their home
countries.

5. (SBU) Other areas where law enforcement liaison operations
between Australia and Vietnam are showing at least some success
are programs to combat trafficking in women and children and the
prosecution of pedophiles. An area of more recent success cited
by the Australians, French and Canadians concerned document
fraud. Australia has provided training and equipment to help
the Vietnamese police to track fraudulent documents and all
three countries reported successes when they requested
assistance from the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in
determining the authenticity of a variety of documents such as
business licenses, marriage certificates and drivers' licenses.
In one notable case, a counterfeit operation that had been
providing false business registration documents to applicants
for Australian visas was broken up and its operators sentenced
to 10 years in prison for counterfeiting GVN documents and seals.

6. (SBU) The area where several Consulates agreed that the
Vietnamese are making the biggest strides is in detecting
fraudulent documents. Equipped with a new Australian-supplied
document laboratory, Vietnam has volunteered to host a special
ASEAN forum on combating document fraud to be held late this
year. While cooperation is possible in a number of areas, the
GVN is particularly prompt in responding to requests to
determine the validity of business registrations and related
documents since combating business fraud is a major GVN law
enforcement goal.

7. (SBU) All Consulates with active law enforcement liaison
operations lamented that cooperation certainly could be better.
They cited personnel changes in HCMC that took place last year
as a step back due entirely to the personalities involved -- the

HO CHI MIN 00000874 002.2 OF 002


former senior police officials were simply easier to deal with.
Consulates also reported that cooperation remains spotty. While
the GVN will usually reply to requests for assistance, there are
times when requests go unanswered and attempts at follow-up are
fruitless.

Areas for Future Cooperation
----------------------------
8. (SBU) The French, in particular, have an aggressive training
program centered on intellectual property rights violations.
They are providing ongoing training and laboratory equipment to
detect counterfeit products ranging from spirits to cosmetics
and have sponsored participation by Vietnamese police in
numerous international fora.

9. (SBU) Turning to intra-Consulate coordination, both the
French Consul General and senior French National Police officer
at the Consulate gave an open invitation for cooperation with
other Consulates on programs aimed at combating IPR violations
and improving the climate for IPR protection. Similarly, the
Australian senior AFP officer expressed a willingness to meet
with law enforcement counterparts from other nations to share
more detailed experience and insights. He also offered to make
some documents available to law enforcement personnel at other
Consulates, such as detailed information on a recent major drug
lab bust.

10. (SBU) COMMENT: ConGen HCMC found this meeting highly
valuable and the insights into areas of improved cooperation
will undoubtedly help our future operations, particularly in the
Consular Section's Anti-Fraud Unit. The anticipated arrival of
an A/RSO-I (reftels) will help enormously in cementing better
relations with local law enforcement. We also plan to look for
ways to take up offers of cooperation made by the various other
participating Consulates. END COMMENT.

11. (U) This cable was coordinate with Embassy Hanoi.
FAIRFAX

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