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Officials fail to stub cigarette smuggling   2010-09-10 - Viet Nam News

Authorities in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang say they are unable to clamp down on cigarette smuggling from Cambodia in the absence of detailed guidance for a new decree that makes it a criminal offence.

 
Decree 76, which came into effect on September 1, makes smuggling of 1,500 packs or more a crime and requires the case to be transferred to the prosecuting agency for filing charges.

Smugglers caught bringing in fewer than 1,500 packs will be fined up to VND100 million (US$5,200).

Earlier, the maximum penalty for smuggling was VND70 million.

However, Ho Thi Ngoc Huong, head of the province Criminal Investigation Police, said law enforcement agencies had not received guidance for the implementation of the decree.

Rampant

Daily, smugglers on motorbikes and on foot bring cigarettes over the border and through National Highway 91 between the province’s Chau Doc and Long Xuyen.

But while in the past two partners in crime would each carry 1,000-1,500 packs at a time on the highway, an anti-smuggling official told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that nowadays five to 10 riders travel together, carrying up to 4,000 packs.

Huong’s office said there were 34 drop-off points along the 55-kilometre Chau Doc – Long Xuyen and 87 full-time smugglers.

The anti-smuggling forces’ hands are tied by the fact that regulations do not allow them to chase smugglers’ motorbikes along the highway.

Besides, smugglers often hired other people to transport their cigarettes, making identification difficult, Huong said.

And they were often so poor that it was difficult to fine them VND100 million even if they were caught, she said.

The An Giang police busted 357 cases of smuggling and seized 325,000 packs between May and August this year, according to the province’s Steering Committee for Anti-Trafficking, Counterfeit Goods and Trade Frauds.



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