As the Lunar New Year (Tet) approaches, smugglers are adopting sophisticated tactics to evade authorised agencies.

They keep a close eye on law enforcement officers' every move, frequently change times and places of operation and mobilise crowds to surround officers, hindering them from working or grabbing back the confiscated goods.

Tin Tuc (News) correspondents in Lang Son province observed that smugglers took advantage of times when law enforcers were changing shifts or in the dark of the night. They focused on hot spots like Ro Bon (in Tan Thanh commune), Goc Buoi and Hill 386 (Tan My commune) and Khe Thot, Cot Co and Thac Nuoc (Dong Dang town). When discovered, they would change their ways to transport their smuggled goods along trails and other border openings in Loc Binh district.

In Tan My commune, Van Lang district, which has a 6km border with China , thousands of people lining Highway 4B and waiting for law enforcers to be off guard so they could illegally jump across the border to carry the smuggled goods back into the country.

In this district, authorised agencies have installed 18 checkposts at border crossings, in addition to hundreds of metres of barbed wire.

"Although each checkpost is manned by two to five people, who take turns staying on duty round the clock, smugglers venture to carry goods across in the dark night or on rainy, cold days to test if there is any response from us," said Nguyen Huu Tri, Director of the Coc Nam Customs Department.

Smugglers also dispatch people to guard the gates of authorised agencies to keep track of law enforcers' movements and inform their accomplices to change direction, forcing law enforcers to constantly work out plans to mislead or distract them.

Meanwhile, heads of smuggling rings are sparing no effort to encourage "smuggling porters" to work for them by increasing their pay, from 3,000-5,000 VND (0.14-0.24 USD) to 20,000 (almost 1 USD). They also pay the "porters" immediately for smuggling the goods successfully.

The typical way that the porters smuggle goods is by carrying the goods on their backs or shoulders or putting the goods in two baskets hung at the ends of a pole placed on their shoulders. When they make it to the border, there are motorbikes in wait on the side of the border, which speed as fast as possible to avoid being caught. If caught, they send a large number of people to gather around the caught motorbike and try to grab back the smuggled goods. After that, some goods are transported to other provinces by minivans or pickup trucks that wait until night falls to leave, while others are mixed with legal cargo of passengers on long-distance buses.

The most common goods smuggled across the northern border with China are children's toys such as plastic guns and swords, crackers of all types, cosmetics, poultry, poultry meat and products made of big animals. Once inside Vietnam , fake invoices allow them to be circulated on the market.-VNA