VCN- At the beginning of July 2016, Hanoi Customs Department officially informed the successfully coordinating investigation E316 and seized the consignments containing dried herbs (Khat leaves) with narcotics, which was transported by international post, including 199 parcels with the total weight of 2.5 tons.
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|The Customs has seized 2.5 tons of transnational drugs|
|The parcels of dried herbs (Khat leaves) containing narcotics which were transported by the international post were seized. (Photo: N.LINH).|
Earlier, in May and June, HCM City Customs Department detected successive consignments of a similar nature containing 3 tons of imported Khat leaves. According to the investigation board, this was an illegal drug ring, including herbs with narcotic substances (Cathinone - a powerful narcotic substance) with complicated, organized, large-scale, nationwide movements. However, it was not easy to deal with individuals, organizations transporting this kind of drug due to the loopholes in the provisions of the current law.
The criminals made use of Vietnam as a country for exporting tea. When carrying out the import-export Customs procedures, they declared dried herbs, dried moringa oleifera, dried tea to implement clearance procedures to a third country. This trick was new and strange, especially when they used Vietnam as the gathering place to mark the labels for exporting to other countries in the world. Notably, there were a number of Khat leaves "bypassing" Quarantine Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and gained the license for exporting to the US. Due to false statements and certification license, the consignments would be exported if they were not promptly detected. However, the authorities and relevant force discovered, prevented and arrested in timely fashion.
Regarding this incident, Mr. Hoang Trung, Director of the Plant Protection Department, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said: "In accordance with the proper process and function, the civil servants of plant quarantine office are responsible for checking out those goods. The declarants declared tea leaves accompanied by a certificate of plant quarantine of the export countries. They were also true with scientific name of the leaves. Because of nature of dried leaves, the risk of phytosanitary measure was not high. Currently, we have asked the phytosanitary system to focus on and coordinate with the relevant authorities for inspection, control, detection in timely fashion for all types of dried leaves in Vietnam, especially various kinds of leaves as Khat leaves. We are also contacting with the export countries to ask why they called it as tea and issued certification for tea leaves, while in Vietnam, the authorities have stated that the leaves were Khat leaves".
However, the issuance of phytosanitary certificates has not caused many worries as much as the inability to handle criminals in transporting Khat leaves due to the lack of legal framework for crimes in drug violations.
Decree 82/2013/ ND-CP of the Government clearly states that Cathinone is located in Category I, No. 9, a powerful drug prohibited in the use of medicine and social life. But in the Criminal Law 2015 which is amending and the Criminal Law 2009, the Khat leaves have not been specified yet.
According to Lieutenant-Colonel. Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thu Ha - Deputy Chief of Division, Anti-drugs and investigation Department (C47), the Ministry of Public Security, because Criminal Law is amending a number of articles, Khat leaves are in category I but they have not been specified in the Criminal Law. Therefore C47 has to consult the superior authorities to handle.
Regarding this incident, Major General, Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Director of C47, the Ministry of Public Security indicated that Article 247 of the Criminal Law 2015 stipulated each level for imprisonment of "Crime of planting opium poppy, marijuan, coca or other plants containing narcotic substances". Law regulates the category "other plants" to aim new drug crops aside from 3 main categories: opium poppy, coca, marijuan. In this incident, Khat leaves are "other plants containing narcotic substances". Articles 247, 248, 249, 250 respectively provided each level for imprisonment of "the crime of illegal manufacture of drugs"; "illegal possession of narcotics"; "illegal transportation of narcotics", but when specifying each behavior in the article, the Criminal Law only handles criminals possessing buying, selling, transporting “opium poppy, coca, marijuan”. Thus, the "other plants" including Khat leaves have been ignored. This is really a loophole in the Criminal Law.
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Mr. Tuan said, the loopholes in law were reported to the Ministry of Public Security by C47 Department and were proposed amendments and supplements to the Law. Also, C47 reported the Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam to consult with the National Assembly Standing Committee on the handling of transporting, purchasing, storing Khat leaves and those violations related to these leaves.
By Chau Anh/ Hoang Anh