Ten drug smugglers sentenced to death in Vietnam

By Agence France-Presse

Vietnam has sentenced 10 people to death for smuggling meth, ketamine and ecstasy across the country by train, state media reported Friday as the communist country deepens its crackdown on drugs.

The gang shifted 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of drugs from northern Vietnam to the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City between 2015 and 2016, according to state-run media on Friday.

Five men and five women were given the death penalty after the trial this week in Hanoi, while two others got life in prison.

“The two ringleaders were paid hundreds thousands of dollars,” for trafficking the drugs, state-run Vietnamnet news site reported.

Court officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The trial comes on the heels of several massive drugs busts in Vietnam, which boasts some of the world’s toughest drug laws.

Anyone caught with more than 600 grams (21 ounces) of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine can face the death penalty.

Last week police seized half a tonne of ketamine in Ho Chi Minh City and arrested three Taiwanese and one Chinese citizen in the bust.

That bust came just weeks after a similar haul of one tonne of crystal meth — or “ice” — and around one tonne of ketamine in the city.

Young Vietnamese are increasingly turning to synthetics like ketamine, ecstasy, and meth.

The suspected overdose deaths of seven youngsters at a music festival in Hanoi last year stunned the conservative communist capital.