|Drugs hidden in the lid of a carton box are discovered by the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch. Photo: H.T
Drugs hidden in home appliances
At the end of July 2022, identifying suspicious signs of an export shipment to Australia, the Export Cargo Procedures Team under the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch conducted a targeted inspection.
Inspecting five hair curlers, customs officers did not detect any drugs. However, when carefully checking the boxes containing these devices, customs officers discovered unusual signs on the lids of the boxes. When the box lids were cut, white powder was exposed in the middle membrane of the lids. The white powder weighed nearly 1.3kg.
Customs officers quickly tested the sample and found it to be heroin.
Expanding the investigation and verifying information related to this shipment, Customs officers said that not only was the drug concealed in a sophisticated way, but also the packing and shipping of goods were counted to conceal the origin of the goods.
The consignor received the goods at a crowded place and was asked to buy some accessories such as combs and hairpins to create, said the consignor.
Previously, Tan Son Nhat International Airport the Customs Branch, the Anti-Drug Enforcement Team under HCMC City Customs Department worked with other competent units to check an export shipment declared as ink cartridges and seized more than 7.7kg of heroin.
Expanding the investigation, the Customs agency coordinated with HCMC Police to arrest the consignor. This case is being investigated.
According to Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch, in 10 cases of drug and precursors concealed in export shipments seized by the customs branch since the beginning of the year, tricks to hide drugs in each case are sophisticated and different.
In order to detect and prevent violations in a timely manner, in addition to the support of machinery and equipment, a sense of responsibility, vigilance, and skills of customs officers are highly appreciated.
Notably, there was a day when the Export Cargo Procedures Yeam checked and detected two shipments of drugs. For example, on March 18, the team inspected two shipments exported to Australia and seized nearly 1.7kg of methamphetamine hidden in lotion boxes and coffee packets.
New routes to transport drugs
HCMC Customs Department said in the first seven months of 2022, the department handled 62 drug cases; of which, more than 150kg of drugs and drug precursors of all kinds were seized, including over 95kg of marijuana, 8kg of methamphetamine, over 11kg of precursors, nearly 19kg of MDMA, over 18kg of heroin and 0.3kg of cocaine.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch, in the past seven months, handled nearly 30 cases of drug and marijuana concealment in import and export shipments, seizing over 84kg of drugs of all kinds.
Notably in recent times, the tricks to hide drugs in export packages via air have been very sophisticated. According to customs officers who discovered the case, the subjects studied and carried out the concealment and delivery of goods very sophisticatedly.
Customs officers said that before packing the drugs for export, the suspects had repeatedly hidden other goods into packages of coffee, fish sauce, etc., to test the management agency at border gates whether their behaviors were detected or not.
For example, the suspects sometimes hide ginger in a coffee package; sometimes hide a package of white powder that looks like heroin in the package. All these tricks are immediately identified by Customs.
Notably, some suspects have taken advantage of opening procedures for export goods, hiding a large number of drug precursors disguised in packages of coffee, jelly, and vegetarian food for export. Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch discovered and seized nearly 11kg of precursors at the end of May.
According to HCMC Customs Department, in addition to the air routes identified as key routes for illegal drug export that are strictly controlled by Customs, such as Singapore, Australia, etc., a few more air routes have appeared such as Malaysia and Korea.
The drug smuggling lines and gangs mostly operate on a large scale, in large areas, inter-provincial or transnational scale with a specific tasks assigned to each member, the masterminds are rarely present.
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Most of them take advantage of social networks (Zalo, Facebook, Telegram) to commit criminal acts, causing many difficulties for the investigation and handling of the Customs authorities as well as other authorities. Along with sophisticated tricks, these are also significant challenges for the Customs in the fight against this dangerous crime.