HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam police busted a massive meth ring in a Ho Chi Minh City mansion allegedly run by a Chinese national who used a textile company as a cover for the operation, police and state media reported Thursday, March 21.
Police on Wednesday stormed the luxury property in Vietnam's largest city, guarded with private security and outfitted with cameras during an hours-long raid which unearthed sacs of methamphetamine believed to have been smuggled in from Laos. (READ: Shabu in Southeast Asia at record high – U.N.)
Around 300 kilos (660 pounds) of methamphetamine was seized, and images in the press later displayed dozens of bricks of drugs.
"Eleven people were arrested including 8 Chinese and 3 Vietnamese," a police official from Binh Tan district where the bust took place told AFP Thursday, requesting anonymity.
The primary suspect was a 56-year-old Chinese national, whose Vietnamese girlfriend was reportedly registered as the owner of a textile export business. The Chinese suspect allegedly ran the drugs operation under the guise of the textile export business.
The confiscated drugs were likely transported from Laos, travelling through Kon Tum province for "consumption in Ho Chi Minh City", the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
The bust was part of a larger investigation across central Vietnam involving several provinces and further investigations are ongoing.
Synthetic drug use is on the rise in the Southeast Asian country, especially among young people who prefer party drugs to opium and heroin popular among older users.
Several large hauls of synthetics have been seized by police in recent months as officials try to wrestle control over the rising trade.
The narcotics are often smuggled in from the "Golden Triangle" – a lawless border zone that straddles Laos, Myanmar and Thailand – though police have also broken up domestic labs churning out meth and other synthetics.
Last year 7 people died at a rave in Hanoi from suspected overdoses in a case that stunned the conservative capital.
Several were seen passed out and convulsing on the ground before being rushed to hospital, and authorities issued a blanket ban on music festivals after the accident, the deadliest drug-related incident in the city's recent history.
Vietnam has some of the harshest drug laws in the world, and anyone caught with more than 600 grams (21 ounces) of heroin or more than 2.5 kilos of methamphetamine can face the death penalty. – Rappler.com