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Trini police probe local link to multi-million-dollar drug bust in Vietnam

Sunday, August 05, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CMC) — Police in Trinidad and Tobago are assisting their counterparts in Vietnam after cocaine, valued at US$35 million was found aboard a ship that left the twin island republic about two months ago.

An online report from a Vietnamese newspaper said the cocaine was found in a shipping container among scrap metal.

The newspaper reported that customs officers at the Tan Cang Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau found a 17-container shipment suspicious and on carrying out a thorough inspection, found four large sacks containing 119 kilogrammes of a white powder among the scrap steel.

Tests found that the powder was high-quality cocaine.

According to logs, the Liberia-flagged cargo ship, Mark Shenzhen, which transported the scrap steel shipment, began its voyage from Trinidad and Tobago two months ago and docked in Panama for half a month before arriving in China on July 15.

The ship then berthed at the Tan Cang Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port, in Vietnam last week, where it unloaded the scrap steel containers before leaving for Singapore immediately afterwards.

Authorities have identified the shipment's owner as Singaporean company Stamcorp International Pte Ltd and its recipient as local firm Pomina Steel 2.

However, the seal on the container did not match documents provided by the shipment's owner. Vietnam police have said that this is the largest-ever drug haul in the province. Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws.

Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grammes of heroin or cocaine or more than 2.5 kilogrammes of methamphetamine could face the death penalty.

The production or sale of 100 grammes of heroin or 300 grammes of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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