August 17, 2019 18:45

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Customs are affirming their role in fighting drug crimes

15:26 | 22/05/2019

VCN- Regarding drug crimes, especially transnational drug crimes and the role of Customs forces in the fighting against this situation activity, Customs Newspaper interviewed Nguyen Van Lich - Deputy Director Head of the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department (General Department of Customs).

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Nguyen Van Lich - Deputy Director of Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department (General Department of Customs)

Can you tell us the current situation of drug crimes in our country, especially regarding the geographical areas of customs operation?

Currently in Vietnam, the structure of drugs has many differences and changes compared to before, especially methamphetamine. If in 2017 methamphetamine was predominantly produced in China, but after being scoured by the country, the criminals moved to the mountains in the Golden Triangle area.

In particular, Chinese people have invested in large-scale methamphetamine factories in isolated locations, and then put drugs into Vietnam to consume or transport to a third country.

Currently, methamphetamine is produced primarily from chemicals with purity up to 99%, low cost; whereas when methamphetamine was produced from western medicines at high prices, the purity level was only about 85%. Therefore, methamphetamine production is produced in very large quantities. According to the evaluation of the national drug prevention and control forces, methamphetamine prices in Vietnam are currently the third cheapest in Southeast Asia after Myanmar and Laos.

This fact makes Vietnamese forces face huge challenges.

In terms of operating areas, after Vietnamese forces attacked in the northern border area, the criminals sought to shift operations to border areas in the central and the south of the country.

In terms of transport methods and tricks, the smugglers used to choose the trail and the open roads. But the results from recent arrests show that smugglers still use methods through trails and openings in remote border forest areas, but also have signs of hiding methamphetamine in normal goods. Therefore, the amount of drugs transported by each gang is not as small as before but is up to tens, even hundreds of kilograms.

This is a challenge for Customs forces.

Therefore, the pressing requirement for Customs is to create favourable conditions for trade activities under the Government's policy, but to continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in management and control customs to detect and prevent acts of smuggling, trade fraud and illegal transportation of goods, including drugs.

What other difficulties does the drug prevention and control work of the Customs force face?

In addition to the above mentioned contents, the drug prevention and control work of the Customs sector still faces many difficulties such as thin forces, equipment which has been invested in but is still lacking and cannot meet requirements.

Meanwhile, there are many shortcomings in policies for civil servants who perform tasks on this difficult and arduous front.

To enhance the effectiveness of the fight against drug prevention and combat by the customs force, in my opinion, in the long term, it is necessary to strengthen the authority of the customs force in the fight against drugs.

Secondly, we must continue to invest in modern equipment for specialised drug prevention and control forces, as well as strengthen equipment for inspection and supervision of import and export goods and vehicles.

Thirdly, it is necessary to have mechanisms and policies to improve material life for drug prevention and control forces.

Fourthly, it is necessary to continue to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of coordination between the Customs force and national and international authorities.

With the complicated developments mentioned above, how has the Customs sector been taking measures to fight against drug-related crimes?

Although facing many difficulties and challenges, but with the situation of drug crimes very complicated, the Customs sector has made efforts to drastically implement, synchronise measures and gained some achievements.

Early identification of complicated developments in drug-related crimes, on August 2, 2018, the General Director of the General Department of Customs signed the issuance of Directive 4550/ CT-TCHQ on strengthening the prevention and control of methamphetamine in the area of ​​customs operations, to promote the fight against drug crimes.

As a result, there has been a clear change in the awareness and role of the Customs force in the fight against drugs. Especially, the direction is maintained regularly, from the General Department to the local customs units, including timely warning when new signs and circumstances appear. Typically, before the emergence of drug-related crimes related to Chinese and Taiwanese people, the General Department of Customs has timely issued instructions and warnings to units to take measures to manage effective management. At the same time, they decided to strictly control the means of transport in key areas and routes.

Therefore, all local customs departments, especially hot areas, have concentrated on forces for drug prevention and fighting.

Another important measure implemented by the Customs is focusing on collecting, analysing and evaluating the domestic situation information through basic investigation activities related to objects, routes and important items with many tricks and methods of hiding from which there are appropriate management and inspection measures.

Another important content to be implemented is domestic and international coordination. For a group of transnational drug criminals, a single force or a nation will struggle to make arrests. Therefore, the Customs force has coordinated with the functional forces and the core force of the Police force. Recent large arrests have proved this combination.

In addition, Vietnam Customs, through international cooperation channels, has strengthened the collection and sharing of intelligence in the customs field, including information on drug crimes.

Can you elaborate on the role of Customs forces in the past "massive" drug projects?

In the fight against drugs, each force has its own strengths. With the customs force, it is the timely grasp of information related to import and export goods, and means of transport to effectively coordinate with other agencies.

Typical is the seizure of 300 kg of methamphetamine in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2019. After arresting the exhibits and objects, according to the assignment in the Specialist Board, the Customs force quickly reviewed and identified 276 kg of drug shipments that had left Vietnam, and unified in the Specialist Board to provide information to Philippine authorities for a timely arrest.

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Another strength of Customs is to manage all information related to import and export precursor chemicals. Items of precursor chemicals are used in industry and health but also a source of raw materials for drug production. Therefore, the Customs force must firmly grasp and control the effectiveness of the import and export of precursor chemicals (legally).

Another change is not only well coordinated in the area of ​​customs operations, but recently, the Customs force also participated in coordinating to destroy domestic cases related to transnational drug lines. This is highly appreciated by the functional agencies.

By Nguyen Quoc/ HuuTuc