February 27, 2007 -
Komfie Manalo - All Headline News Correspondent
Hanoi, Vietnam (AHN) - Authorities in Vietnam on Tuesday arrested an Australian woman for carrying over 1.4 kg of heroin, the local newspaper People's Army reported.
Reports said the woman, identified as Jasmine Luong, and holding an Australian passport, was about to board a flight from Vietnam's southern city of Ho Chi Minh to Australia, when police and customs officers were alerted.
Investigators said the 33-year-old Luong is believed to be a member of an international heroin trafficking syndicate founded in 2003. The group is suspected of using Vietnam as a key trans shipment point for its drug dealing.
The Ministry of Public Safety said that in 2006, Vietnam detected 10,783 drug-related cases, detaining 16,686 involved people, and seizing 276.6 kg of heroin, 645 kg of marijuana, 62,870 lab-made drug pills, and 167,138 pills and tubes containing addictive substances.
Under Vietnam's laws, anyone possessing, trading or trafficking heroin of 600 grams or above can be sentenced to death or life in prison.
In June 2003, A Vietnamese court sentenced an Australian woman to a life sentence and her 14-year-old sister given a four-year prison term after they were found guilty of trafficking drugs.
Phan Thi Ngoc Phuong, 25, was given a life sentence by the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court despite demands by prosecutors that she receive the death penalty.
Prosecutors had also asked that her sister, Phan Ngoc Viet Phi, be jailed for between eight and 10 years.
No criminal proceedings were brought against their youngest sister, Phan Ngoc Viet Chau, 12, because Vietnamese law prohibits prosecution of people under the age of 14. She was released into the care of relatives and will now be allowed to return to Australia.