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Handling of Khat leaves, waiting for guidance of the Ministry of Public Security

08:59 | 05/12/2017

VCN - The General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) has sent an official letter requesting the Ministry of Public Security to guide the handling of leaves containing narcotics (Khat leaves) to guide local Customs units.  

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Khat leaves seized by Hai Phong Customs on mid-May 2017. Photo: N. Quoc

The above content has been notified by the GDVC to Hai Phong Customs Department.

Earlier, Hai Phong Customs Department has sent a written request to the GDVC for guiding the handling of two shipments of more than 5.6 tons of Khat leaves seized by the unit on mid-March and May 2017.

Up to now, the competent authorities have gained the verification results which shows that the Khat leaves contain Cathinone and Cathine substances. In particular, Cathinone is listed in the List I on narcotics which are absolutely banned from use in medicine and for social living according to Decree 82/2013 / ND-CP of the Government (promulgating list of narcotics and pre-substances); Cathine is listed in List III of Decree 82 on centripetalneurotropic substances.

During the investigation process, the Customs authorities could not determine the owner of the above two shipments, because the companies named in the bill of lading provided written documents of refusal to receive the goods because of failure to sign the contract.

In order to have a basis for the handling, on 25 May 2017, Hai Phong Customs Department has sent official letter 6039 / HQHP-KSHQ to Hai Phong People's Procuracy. According to the feedback from Hai Phong People's Procuracy , on 29 May 2017, the Supreme People's Procuracy held an inter-sector meeting at government level and then decided that the acts of trading, transporting and hoarding Khat leaves are not considered as a criminal offence and are not subject to criminal proceedings.

After consulting the competent authorities and studying current regulations, Hai Phong Customs Department said that although the goods as Cathinone and Cathine were in the lists of narcotics and centripetalneurotropic substances, Khat leaves were not regulated as narcotics by the Criminal Code, the Law on Narcotic Drugs and Decree 82, so it was impossible to handle the recent seizures of Khat leaves in accordance with the Criminal law for crimes related to drugs or other crimes.

On the other hand, Hai Phong Customs has announced they are looking for the owner, but so far, the contacted organizations or individuals have refused receipt.

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According to Hai Phong Customs Department, based on the provisions of the Law on handling of administrative violations and the Customs Law, in cases where the owner of goods can not be identified beyond 90 days since the date of goods arrival at the import border gate and after announcing on the mass media and posting at the Customs authority headquarters, the competent agency can not not issue a decision on sanction for administrative violations but can issue a decision on confiscating or destroying goods and exhibits which are banned from circulation. Since the shipments have a specific nature (the name of the goods is not in the list of prohibited substances but goods containing substances listed in the list of banned substances, Hai Phong Customs Department is proposing the administrative handling by destruction.

Police Colonel worried about the new drugs

At the 4th session of the National Assembly, Colonel Pham Huyen Ngoc (National Assembly Member of Ninh Thuan province) - Director of Public Security of Ninh Thuan province, emphasized that the illegal trade, transport and use of narcotics and drug addicts were increasing. In 2017, 16,923 cases were prosecuted, up by 10.13 % and 20,791 addicts were accused, up by 8.47% compared to 2016. Drug addicts are now nearly 220,000 people, the actual number is higher, drug crimes perform complicatedly both in nature and level of crime with sophisticated, daring tricks and ready to use "hot" weapons to fight when being detected and arrested.

Notably, drug criminals and addicts have expanded their activities to rural areas, entered the schools and there are many new drugs such as drug paper and stamp, Khat leaves, American grass containing narcotics for sales online. It is very difficult to control and handle sellers and buyer.

By N. Quoc/ Huyen Trang