Hanoi (VNA) - Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, smuggling and trade fraud, especially drug trafficking, remained complex issues in 2020. The customs sector has coordinated with other agencies and forces to successfully unveil many cases, including major drug trafficking rings, Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai told a recent teleconference reviewing the customs sector’s performance in 2020 and launching tasks for next year.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the sector expanded activities to prevent smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit goods in 2020, uncovering a number of major cross-border drug trafficking cases.

463 billion VND collected for State budget

General Director of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can said that with the resolve to actively and proactively fight smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeits, the department has adhered to directions issued by the Government, the National Steering Committee Against Smuggling, Trade Fraud, and Counterfeits (National Steering Committee 389), the Government’s Steering Committee for Crime Prevention and Control (Steering Committee 138), and the Ministry of Finance to carry out assigned tasks and has submitted proposals to fight smuggling and illegal cross-border transportation of goods.

As a result, the sector uncovered some 14,100 customs violations involving goods worth about 4.231 trillion VND (183.5 million USD) between January and November. It has also launched legal action in 37 criminal cases, proposed other agencies launch investigations in 130 cases, and collected 463 billion VND for the State budget.

The uncovering of major cases shows that violations are getting increasingly complex. The sector recently busted the biggest case of cigarette smuggling via sea routes so far, seizing 8,549 packages with 4.27 million cigarette packs.

Can said the customs sector has also ordered its units to effectively fight the smuggling of medicinal materials. For example, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department at Vietnam Customs worked with the Customs Department of central Da Nang city, the drug quality control agency at the Ministry of Health, and relevant local authorities to examine five containers, discovering that the goods inside were not apples, turnips, or carrots as declared, but mostly medicinal materials weighing about 103 tonnes.

Big drug busts

As one of the core forces in the fight against cross-border drug trafficking, the customs sector as a whole has worked to expose complex large-scale drug cases.

As of November, it had coordinated with relevant forces to tackle 205 cross-border drug trafficking cases, detaining 184 people involved and seizing more than 82 kg and 219 bricks of heroin, 16.02 kg of marijuana, 15.7 kg of opium, 23.01 kg and 412,464 pills of synthetic drugs, and 646.6 kg of methamphetamine.

Customs sector seizes over 180 mln USD worth of illegal goods from Jan-Nov hinh anh 1A container of mobile phone components and accessories imported from China but labelled “Made in Vietnam” discovered by the Customs Department of northern Hai Phong city (Photo: VietnamPlus)
Notably, the customs sub-department at the Cau Treo International Border Gate in the north-central province of Ha Tinh recently found, via baggage scanning, 93 kg of methamphetamine and 5 kg of ketamine hidden in five wooden statues.

Customs, police, and border guard forces also dismantled a major ring trafficking drugs from HCM City to the Republic of Korea and another from Cambodia to HCM City.

The successful offensive against cross-border drug trafficking reflects synchronous, close, and effective coordination between forces, thereby helping to stamp out drug crime and ensure domestic security and community safety, Can noted.

For 2021, Deputy Minister of Finance Mai asked the customs sector to push ahead with fighting smuggling and trade fraud, especially before, during, and after the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

It should also step up communications to encourage the public to join in the fight, she added./.