Southwest provinces struggle against border smuggling

Authorized agencies have found it tough to fight against smuggling traditionally flourishing by the end of every year along the southwest border in Vietnam.

Motorcyclist caught red handed transporting illicit cigarettes in Dong Thap Province (Photo: SGGP)

Thuong Thoi Hau B Commune, Hong Ngu District, Dong Thap Province sharing the river border with Cambodia is one of the busiest places of illicit goods in the Mekong Delta.

Along the riverside in Cambodia a lot of warehouses contain illegal commodities. They will be transported across the river by motorboats to the Vietnamese side, where motorbikes are always ready to receive goods.

Smuggled goods have run through Vinh Nguon Ward, Chau Doc District, An Giang Province adjacent to Takeo Province in Cambodia.

About 1.5 kilometers from the border is a place notorious for illicit goods in Cambodia, where 17 shops and warehouses have sprouted with various kinds of commodities including cosmetics, cigarettes, sugar and electronic items.

Smugglers transport these commodities to Vietnam with many means of transport from motorbikes to motorboats along paths and canals to reach Vinh Nguon Ward.

Police officials seize illicit cigarettes in An Giang province (Photo: SGGP)

Thai sugar smuggling has also worsened in An Phu District, An Giang Province.

Commander Nguyen Nhat Truong from An Giang Police Department said that the smugglers detached men to stand over the police, and waited for chances to transport goods into Vietnam. In case of being uncovered, the smugglers just operate motor boats back towards the Cambodian side.

Smugglers have been more swift and reckless willing to mobilize human resources and fight against officials if being chased or encircled.

On October 3, anti-smuggling officials in An Giang Province besieged a warehouse in Tinh Bien town.

When the 49 year old warehouse owner Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van acknowledged of the situation, she cut the power off, prepared to transport illicit goods away, and made a phone call mobilizing over 200 people to remove the contraband.

Border army force patrols along the border in An Giang (Photo: SGGP)

Many of them shouted down, threatened the officials and called for the crowd to break the blockade and rob goods.

Thirty minutes later, the warehouse suddenly blazed up. Police force had to break the door to get in, took Van and her two year old grandchild out and rushed them to hospital.

At that time, hundreds of incited people rushed into the warehouse to throw goods into the fire to destroy the evidence. They even used knifes and empty beer bottles to threaten the officials.

Van’s warehouse was burnt down but police force still seized over 122,000 cigarette packets, 140 boxes of beer and beverage, and wine bottles.

Local authorities have set up posts to prevent smugglers in many places. However the smugglers just move to other places to operate making anti-smuggling work very tough.

The Investigation Agency under An Giang Police Department has deterred at least 1,504 smuggling cases trafficking illicit goods worth VND26 billion for the last 11 months.

Head of Tinh Bien District Police Department Nguyen Thanh Hai said that authorized agencies should step up propaganda to raise people’s awareness against smuggling, especially those living in the border areas.

In long term, there should have policies to assist local unemployed people to have a stable livelihood, and prevent magnates from exploiting and inducing them to smuggle.

By Binh Dai – Translated by Hai Mien

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