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18 sentenced to death in Vietnam drug bust

HANOI (AFP) – Two South Koreans were among 18 people sentenced to death on drug smuggling and trafficking charges in Vietnam, state media said.

The communist country has some of the toughest drug laws in the world, and is notoriously secretive about its executions.

South Korean ex-police officer Kim Soon-sik, 63, and compatriot Kang Seon-hok, 30, were sentenced to death following a four-day trial in Ho Chin Minh City, state media said late on Saturday.

Chinese citizen Li Tian Guan, 58, and alleged Vietnamese ringleader Le Ho Vu, 36, were also handed death sentences.

Defendants standing during their trial for drug trafficking in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. PHOTO: VNA/AFP

Fourteen other people were also handed death sentences in connection with the case, following the trial in the Family and Juvenile Court, under Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court.

The group “illegally stored, trafficked and traded more than 216 kilogrammes (kg) of drugs” between May and June 2020, state media news site Cong an Nhan dan reported.

More than 168kg of “all kinds of drugs” were confiscated, it reported, without specifying what type.

The narcotics were trafficked from Cambodia to Ho Chin Minh City, according to Vu, where some were “consumed domestically” while others were transported to South Korea, Cong an Nhan dan said.

Officers busted the operation on July 19 in Ho Chin Minh City, according to the reported indictment, when they searched a container truck preparing to complete customs clearance for shipment to South Korea.