A secret from a shipment of imported marshmallows


The marshmallows laced with banned substances were discovered by the Customs authorities. Photo: ST
The marshmallows laced with banned substances were discovered by the Customs authorities. Photo: ST

Unusual gift shipment

A shipment of nearly 6 kg of gummies marinated with active ingredients of cannabis hidden in gift packages sent from abroad to Vietnam via express delivery has just been detected by Team 6 – Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department in coordination with the Express Customs Sub-department – Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department; PC04 – Ho Chi Minh City Police arrested.

According to the leader of Team 6, through reconnaissance information, the unit received information about a shipment imported from the US to Vietnam via express delivery containing banned substances, so they coordinated to monitor and track. After a period of monitoring, the Team Leader of Team 6 recently issued a decision to search vehicles and objects according to regulations, and at the same time co-chaired and conducted the search according to administrative procedures for the imported shipment under bill of lading H55438, etc, provided by an express delivery service enterprise in Vietnam. The shipment includes 1 package, the name of the goods described on the bill of lading is “SILICONE MOULDING”, weight 6.36 kg.

The shipment is packed in cartons, with many small boxes inside. Upon inspection, the Customs officers discovered that the box contained many zip bags containing soft, flexible pellets (similar to marshmallows) with colors: blue and red. The weight of each packed bag is around 1 kg, total about 5.75 kg.

Through inspection, it was suspected that the above-mentioned marshmallows contained banned substances such as drugs, and the Customs agency conducted an expert assessment. The assessment results of the Criminal Technology Department – Ho Chi Minh City Police discovered Delta-9-Tetrahydrocanabinol in candy, weighing over 5,600 grams.

According to search results on the information page of the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention – Ministry of Health: “The main ingredient, the active ingredient in cannabis is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (abbreviated as THC) found in leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. This substance stimulates the brain to release a substance called dopamine, giving the user feelings of excitement, relaxation, pleasure and sex. If used in the form of smoking or vaping (e-cigarettes), THC can enter the bloodstream quickly enough for the user to achieve pleasure in a few seconds or minutes. THC levels typically peak in about 30 minutes and take 1-3 hours to wear off. If you drink or eat, it takes many more hours for the user to be completely awake.”

According to the leader of Team 6, the subjects mixed delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol into gummies to transport from abroad to Vietnam. Candy and cakes are common goods, sent from abroad to Vietnam a lot, in the form of gifts for relatives. Therefore, mixing drugs into gummies can easily bypass the authorities if this trick is not promptly warned and disseminated.

Proactively coordinate to capture subjects

Team 6 Captain Nguyen Dang Mich said that in recent times, following the instructions of the leaders of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department, Team 6 has proactively coordinated with units inside and outside the sector to carry out operations “transfer controlled goods” to arrest those involved in violating shipments containing drugs. However, tracking and catching the subjetcs and leaders are very difficult, because they prepare many very sophisticated countermeasures to avoid responsibility if discovered. For example, in the case of the shipment of marshmallows mentioned above, the consignee was a subject with an address in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City, but when contacting the subject via the receiving phone number, the subject blocked contact, did not receiving goods.

According to Team 6’s assessment, in recent times, the activities of illegal drug traffickers and traders have become complicated, especially on air routes and post offices. Subjects take advantage of policies to facilitate customs clearance of goods, luggage, means of entry and exit, transit, and borrowing routes to trade and transport narcotics into Vietnam, in which the air route and express delivery are outstanding. The subjects researched very carefully and took advantage of policies to facilitate customs clearance of goods, luggage, means of entry, exit, and transit to trade and transport narcotics from abroad into Vietnam, disguised and hidden in goods for export to third countries.

The tricks of the subjects use diverse and sophisticated methods, making it difficult for inspection and supervision by the authorities. Recently, in early 2024, Team 6 coordinated with Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Sub-department (HCMC Customs Department) to arrest a person illegally transporting more than 3 kg of cocaine from Laos to Vietnam via air. The subject designed a very sophisticated double-bottomed suitcase to hide drugs and sent it as checked baggage. However, with experience and sharp professional measures, the Customs force has exposed the subject’s sophisticated tricks.

Having identified key areas and sophisticated tricks of drug traffickers and traders, in the coming time, Team 6 will continue to proactively collect information and exchange professional information with other forces inside and outside the Customs sector, as well as the World Customs Organization and other international organizations, etc to effectively serve drug prevention in the management area.

From the information reported by Team 6, on March 26, 2024, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department, General Department of Customs sent an official dispatch to local customs departments warning about methods and tricks of mixing delta substances. -9-tetrahydrocannabinol into gummies transported from abroad to Vietnam, so that units know, pay attention, and promptly detect and prevent when inspecting shipments of goods similar to those above findings.


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