Two South Koreans are among 18 people sentenced to death in Vietnam on charges of drug trafficking.
The communist country has some of the strictest drug laws in the world and is notorious for its secrecy about executions.
The South Korean ex-policeman Kim Soon-sik (63) and his countryman Kang Seon-hok (30) were sentenced to death after a four-day court case in Ho Chi Minh City, state media said on Saturday.
Chinese citizen Li Tian Guan (58) and alleged Vietnamese front goat Le Ho Vu (36) were also sentenced to death.
Fourteen other people were also sentenced to death in connection with the case in the Family and Children’s Court. Between May and June 2020, the group “illegally stored, transported and traded more than 216 kg of drugs”, state media said Cong an Nhan then report.
More than 168 kg of “all kinds of drugs” were confiscated.
Some of the drugs transported from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, according to Vu, were “consumed locally” while others were exported to South Korea, according to Cong an Nhan then.
Officers uncovered the syndicate on July 19 when a truck was searched in Ho Chi Minh that had to complete a customs declaration for shipment to South Korea.
Forty plastic bags with white crystals, with a total of 39.5 kg of methamphetamine, were found in the truck.
State media reports that Vu was found guilty on charges of “illegal transportation of drugs” and “the use of forged stamps or documents or organizations”.
The other 17 people were found guilty of illegal possession of drugs, illegal trafficking in drugs, illegal transport of drugs and organizing the illegal consumption of drugs.
Three defendants were sentenced to life in prison for the illegal transportation of drugs, reported Cong an Nhan then. One person, younger than 18 years old, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
It is not yet known when the executions will take place.
Courts in Vietnam routinely hand down death sentences for drug offenses and the country leads the world in executions, according to Amnesty International. Anyone caught with more than 600g of heroin or more than 2.5kg of methamphetamine can face the death penalty.
A report by Amnesty International in 2021 said partial disclosure by authorities “suggests that hundreds of people are sentenced to death every year”. More than 100 people were sentenced to death in Vietnam last year, according to the international non-governmental organization Death Penalty Information Center.
Since 2013, executions in Vietnam have been carried out by lethal injection when it replaced firing squads.