HANOI, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The Vietnamese police have arrested four people in an operation to smash an international network smuggling drugs from Europe to the Southeast Asian country, Vietnam News reported on Thursday.
Suspected ringleader Hoang Tien Dung, 27, was reported to run a pure water company and provide restaurant and transportation services in Hung Yen province, the Drug Crime Investigation Police Department in Hanoi said.
These businesses may appear to be normal, but it was being used as a "front" to sell drugs and launder drug money, said the police.
Dung, along with his wife Le Thi Huyen, 25, was accused of trafficking drugs, concealed in food and household items, from Europe via international postal systems.
Tran Van Tuan, 19, is allegedly a key accomplice, mainly handling shipments and guarding the drug warehouse, said the police.
Meanwhile, Dao Ngoc Long, 35, was accused of acting as an intermediary, connecting the ringleader with foreign individuals to arrange drug purchases.
Hanoi Police, in cooperation with the city's customs authorities, earlier confiscated a package sent from the Netherlands and another package sent from the Czech Republic through the Noi Bai International Airport.
The seizure led to the arrest of the ring leader's wife on May 4 with nearly 20 kg of various types of drugs hidden in beer cans and coffee makers and 0.13 g of synthetic drugs.
The task force then arrested the leaders along with two accomplices and seized more than 42 kg of different types of drugs hidden in bubble tea and coffee bags.
The Vietnamese police said drug seizures from air cargo mailed into the country have risen in the first three months this year as it is highly profitable to smuggle drugs from European countries through airborne shipments.
Synthetic drugs are trafficked by air to Vietnam from such European producer countries as Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, and France, with profit rates ranging from between 5 times and 10 times, said the Ministry of Public Security's Department of Drug Investigation Police Department.
In Vietnam, drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of death for those convicted of smuggling over 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kg of methamphetamine.