Saigon police Sunday arrested a Vietnamese American bar owner whose employees sold banned substances to customers every night.
Le Van Tien, 54, owner of the 030-X8 bar on Nam Quoc Cang Street in HCMC’s District 1, and 15 of his employees have been under criminal investigation for “organizing illegal use of narcotics,” and “illegal possession of narcotic substances.”
On Wednesday, hundreds of police officers raided the bar near Saigon’s famous backpacker precinct and found over 300 people inside with signs of drug abuse.
Some tried to throw their drugs away and flee the bar, but were stopped and taken to the police station for tests. Over 200 people tested positive for banned substances.
Many packets of drugs, including ecstasy, were found on the dance floor.
According to investigators, the drug users admitted to the police that the bar staff provided them with ecstasy and trays of other drugs.
Upon checking the employees’ lockers, police discovered a lot of drugs. The staff said their boss knew that they sold banned substances to drug users and often reminded them “to be discreet.”
Police also discovered a large amount of drugs in Tien’s house.
Drug trafficking, trade and abuse seem to be widespread in the country despite Vietnam having some of the world’s toughest drug laws.
The use of synthetic drugs has been on the rise among partying youth in Vietnam, multiple reports have noted. Last September, seven people died of suspected drug overdose at a music concert in Hanoi.
23,500 known drug users were recorded by Saigon authorities last year, a 7 percent increase from 2017.
The city has become an increasingly used transit point for drugs, because of its well connected road, marine and air transport services, said Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of the HCMC Police department.
Vietnamese authorities deal with around 20,000 drug cases every year and arrest around 30,000 people. The country has some 250,000 registered addicts, but the actual figures are thought to be much higher.
Drug addiction has long been considered a “social evil” in the country, and a controversial policy of forced abstinence and re-education has been adopted to deal with it.