Vietnam authorities search homes of flight attendants caught with illegal drugs

They maintain that they were unaware of the contents packed in toothpaste tubes.
By RFA Vietnamese
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Vietnam authorities search homes of flight attendants caught with illegal drugs Custom officers inspect toothpaste tubes filled with drugs as one of four Vietnam Airlines flight attendants, who carried the tubes in their baggage, looks on, at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper

Updated at 7:30 P.M. EDT on 03-21-2023

Vietnamese authorities have searched the homes of four flight attendants who say they unknowingly transported illegal synthetic drugs hidden in toothpaste tubes into the Southeast Asian country, Vietnamese state media reported Tuesday.

But authorities did not find any illegal narcotics at the homes of Vietnamese Airlines flight attendants Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Vo Tu Quynh, Tran Thi Thu Ngan and Dang Phuong Van, crew members on a plane from Paris that landed in Ho Chi Minh City on March 16, according to The Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper

The flight attendants were carrying 154 toothpaste tubes containing 11.4 kilograms (25 lbs.) of tablets and white powder, which customs officers Tan Son Nhat International Airport identified as MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine.

They were arrested at the airport, but Ho Chi Minh City police said Tuesday that they have not yet been charged.

The four flight attendants told police they had contacted liaison points in France and Vietnam for the purpose of collecting and delivering the toothpaste tubes. 

Police also said the tubes passed through French customs successfully and that they have summoned one of the alleged contacts for questioning.

After customs officials discovered the synthetic drugs during a security clearance check, the flight attendants said they agreed to transport the toothpaste tubes for an individual who approached them in Paris and paid them more than 10 million dong, or about U.S. $424, as a shipping fee. They also said they did not know the toothpaste tubes contained illicit narcotics.

Ho Chi Minh City police said Thuy and Quynh each carried 31 tubes of MDMA and 2 tubes of ketamine. Ngan transported 780 grams of MDMA in her luggage, while Van carried over 2 kilos of MDMA and 2 kilos of ketamine and cocaine. 

A representative from Vietnam’s flagship airlines said the company was working closely with relevant government agencies to investigate the case and hold the perpetrators accountable in accordance with Vietnamese law as well as the airlines’ rules and regulations. 

From Jan. 1 to March 14, customs officials at Tan Son Nhat International Airport detected eight cases of drug trafficking and confiscated nearly 15 kilos (33 lbs.) of various illegal narcotics.

Translated by Anna Vu for RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Matt Reed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of one of the flight attendants as Tran Thi Thu Nga.


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