Transnational drug crimes on unpredictable air routes

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transnational drug crimes on unpredictable air routes
The Anti-Drug Control Team held a meeting of the Investigation Committee. Photo: M.T

The illegal transportation of narcotics is complex through international postal airmail, express delivery despite the epidemic, why is this?

This is the common situation of countries in the region, including Vietnam. When the entry and exit route were strictly controlled, drug smugglers diverted their transportation by hiding drugs in export and import shipments through air and express delivery.

Notably, after a period of lull, criminals smuggling drugs to Taiwan and Australia have shown signs of returning with sophisticated tricks, making it difficult to detect both concealment and disguise methods in goods, (mixed in food packages for animals, or in packages of salted lemon candy, in glove boxes) to tricks of transportation through many intermediary stages, delivery of goods in public places by technical motorbike taxi, entrusted through many logistics companies and use the internet (Zalo, Viber, WeChat) or use fake names to contact delivery and payment to remove traces when detected. At the same time, the HCM City Customs Department also discovered a new drug transport route from Vietnam to Korea, disguised in packages of instant coffee and tea

In the first months of 2021, HCM City Customs Department continuously detected and arrested many cases of import and export of drug-containing goods via air and express delivery in the form of non-commercial gifts including marijuana imported from the US, Canada and synthetic MDMA tablets (ecstasy) from European countries. From the end of the first quarter of 2021, ecstasy imported from Europe into HCM City has decreased significantly due to being detected and seized by the Customs, now it has been diverted to other provinces and cities and the public forces, the Customs detected, coordinated arrest in Hanoi, Nam Dinh and Binh Duong in large quantities.

From the beginning of 2021 to May 15, HCM City Customs Department worked with functional forces to detect and arrest 45 cases, and seized about 102kg of drugs of all kinds, including 6.1kg Ketamine, 17.2kg of MDMA and 79.7kg of cannabis.

What difficulties does the unit face when fighting and preventing illegal drug transport cases?

Currently, it is very easy to buy, sell and send goods online, while drugs are purchased without prepayment, subjects can track transit time as well as the clearance time of the package sent. If the goods arrive in HCM City but were not cleared in regulation time, they will be abandoned. This is a difficult problem for the forces in organising the arrest and handling of drug crimes according to law.

Another difficulty is drug smugglers are very impish and cunning, always looking for loopholes in the management of customs to carry out illegal cross-border drug transportation such as using a fake name, address and identity card to send and receive goods, use Zalo to contact and technical delivery for motorbike taxi to transport to the delivery service company to remove traces; sophisticatedly camouflage drugs in household appliances, food packages, electronic machinery or tightly wrapped and then pressed against the middle of the walls of packaging cartons to overtake scanners, police dogs. If the Customs does not have inspection and screening skills, it will not be able to detect them.

However, thanks to a good job of grasping the situation, developing specific projects and fighting plans, in the past time, the Drug Prevention and Control Team, Express Delivery Customs Sub-Department and Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Sub-Department have coordinated to achieve positive results in the fight against drugs in the area.

Facing the situation of complicated and sophisticated drug crimes, being a specialised drug prevention force of the HCM City Customs Department, what solutions does the Drug Prevention and Control Team suggest to advise the Department of HCM City Customs effectively prevent drugs from passing through the area?

To fight and control strictly drugs through the area in the future, the Drug Prevention and Control Team has advised the HCM City Customs Department to develop and implement Plan No. 3383/KH-HQHCM on enhancing the effectiveness of the prevention, combat and control of drugs and precursors in the area and Plan No. 904/KH-HQHCM on strengthening the fight against taking advantage of the developments of the Covid-19 pandemic to smuggle and illegally transport narcotics through the management area.

According to the plan, in the future, units under the department will strengthen the work of collecting information, concentrating forces to deploy plans and specialised projects on the fight against drugs and precursors and control the stages before, during and after customs clearance. In the process of customs clearance for export goods, luggage and means of entry and exit; do not allow objects to take advantage of the Green channel, CFS warehouses, independently transported goods, transit goods, non-commercial goods, and express delivery goods to carry out the illegal transportation of drugs and precursors.

In which, the main measures to focus on are developing and implementing a plan of general drug prevention and fight among the Cluster of units such as: Drug Prevention and Control Team; Customs Sub-Department of Tan Son Nhat International Airport; Express Customs Sub-Department. With these plans, key routes and types of goods with a high risk of drug transport will be identified to focus forces on inspection, control and prevention.

Complete the whole force of the specialised anti-narcotics of the unit to ensure the quantity and quality to meet requirements of political tasks in the new situation. At the same time, promote effective implementation of professional customs control measures, focus on doing the collection and analysis of information, basic investigation, verification and use effectively equipment: container scanners, body scanners, cargo scanners, luggage scanners, drug testing machines, police dogs and surveillance cameras in key areas with a high volume of imported and exported goods, a lot of immigration vehicles and passengers to promptly detect new methods and tricks of drug criminals, take measures to fight and prevent drug purchase and transportation activities across the area.

In addition, closely working with competent forces of the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to control illegal drug activities in import-export, not to lose precursors, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, veterinary drugs containing narcotics and psychotropic substances being used for wrong purposes, not to be used by criminals to produce illegal drugs. At the same time, coordinate to share information and establish specialised projects with competent forces such as the Police and the Border Guards to fight and dismantle transnational and inter-provincial drug lines from inland to the border gate and vice versa.

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