Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called upon the authorities of Ho Chi Minh City on October 6 to strictly punish officials who assist criminals and regularly rotate officers in sensitive positions.

The request was made during a working session with representatives of the municipal People’s Committee to examine the prevention of crime, social evils, smuggling, fraud and counterfeit goods during the first nine months of 2014.

Major General Phan Anh Minh, Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Public Security, reported that 4,668 criminal cases had been recorded in the locality during the period, 10 more than last year.

While the number of serious cases, such as murder, robbery and rape fell sharply, fraud cases surged by 22.35 percent to 301 cases, including those involved by foreigners.

He said economic crime had become more organised, while drug crime had grown more complex with an increase in transnational drug trafficking. Relevant agencies discovered 16 cases of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs being transported into or out of Vietnam via Tan Son Nhat Airport.

During the session, a representative of HCM City’s Market Watch Agency said goods were being trafficked into the city via official and inofficial channels. Notably, the smuggling of cigarettes along the National Road 22 and interprovincial roads 2 and 15 escalated due to the steep price differences between HCM City and Cambodia.

Meanwhile, counterfeit goods and violations of property rights remained unchecked, the official added.

Deputy PM Phuc highlighted the low rate of exposed cases at 64.4 percent, falling short of the 70 percent target. The Deputy PM attributed this to the sheer size of HCM City’s market, as well as the inactiveness and lack of determination of local authorities.

In addition to closely supervising officials, the city needed to conduct crackdowns, focusing on environmental and organised crimes, he said, adding that the city should mobilise its citizens to engage in crime prevention and maximise the effectiveness of official efforts.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuc, Deputy Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said Vietnam, and HCM City in particular, was expected to become a target destination for wildlife smuggling, especially over the Tet holiday period early next year.

Therefore, urgent measures were needed to prevent the influx of illegal wildlife and wildlife products, he said, whilst also proposing tightened control over gasoline sales.-VNA