HANOI – Thirty people have been sentenced to death for smuggling over 12 tons of heroin in Vietnam after the country’s biggest ever drugs trial.
Dozens more have been convicted of trafficking in the south east Asian country and given lengthy jail terms.
In total 89 defendants have been found guilty of trafficking heroin between 2006 and 2012 at the mass trial in the province of Quang Ninh, which borers China.
There were so many accused at the proceedings it had to be held outside rather than in a courtroom.
Vietnam is part of the Golden Triangle, one of the world’s main opium-producing areas, and is regularly used as a stop-off point for drug smugglers.
As a result the nation imposes strict punishments on those caught trafficking drugs.
Attempting to move over 100g of heroin is punishable by lethal injection of life imprisonment.
Presiding judge Ngo Duc said: “This was Vietnam’s largest ever trial in terms of defendants, the number of death penalties given out and the amount of heroin involved.
“Because of the large number of defendants and the seriousness of the case, the trial was held at the prison.”
South east Asia is one of the two regions responsible for the production and transportation of a majority of the world’s heroin – along with the the Golden Crescent of Pakistan and Afghanistan in central Asia.
Opium is produced in Myanmar, the world’s second largest producer, and then transported along the Chiang Rai Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border for conversion into heroin.
Finished products are then shipped into towns in northern Thailand before being moved to the capital Bangkok for further distribution to international smugglers and couriers, with many attempting to leave the region through Vietnam.