Four Vietnam Airlines cabin crew caught smuggling 11.4 kg of hard drugs on flight from Paris

Four Vietnam Airlines flight attendants caught smuggling drugs disguised as toothpaste on a flight from Paris earlier this month were released on bail yesterday, reports VnExpress.

On March 16, police arrested four flight attendants – Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Vo Tu Quynh, Tran Thi Thu Ngan and Dang Phuong Van – after 11.4 kilogrammes of cocaine and ketamine were discovered in their hand luggage upon arriving at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chih Minh City.

The cabin crew claimed that they didn’t know that 157 of the 327 toothpaste tubes – weighing 60 kilogrammes – contained drugs. The flight attendants told officials that they were paid ten million dong (US$425) by someone in France to transport the toothpaste, at the request of another Vietnam Airlines employee.

The four flight attendants told police that they checked for signs of tampering prior to taking the toothpaste on board but didn’t find any. All four denied knowing they were carrying drugs in their hand luggage.

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Amazingly, authorities have said, “there is not enough evidence for a criminal charge.”

The Thaiger wonders, if it were a passenger who was caught carrying 11.4 kilogrammes of hard drugs on an international flight, would the excuse “someone paid me to take the package” get them off the hook?

Especially in Vietnam, where serious cases of international drug smuggling are punishable by the death penalty. For example, a Vietnamese man who picked up 30 kilogrammes of drugs on the Vietnam side of the Laos border and was caught carrying them across the country in November was sentenced to death.

Back in 2014, a Russian woman living in Thailand named Maria Dapirka attempted to smuggle 2.2 kilogrammes of cocaine from Brazil to Laos and was caught while transitioning at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chih Minh City. She narrowly escaped the death penalty and instead was sentenced to life in a Vietnamese prison.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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