HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam police have arrested a Chinese national found with a massive haul of heroin in Ho Chi Minh City, the second such bust in a week as the country cracks down on the illicit trade.
Though communist Vietnam boasts some of the world's toughest drug laws, it is both a consumption hub and a popular thoroughfare for narcotics from the lawless "Golden Triangle" region straddling Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
Vietnam has clocked several high-profile busts in recent months as it seeks to contain rampant drug trafficking.
Police on Wednesday (March 27) found 313kg of suspected heroin worth an estimated US$8.6 million (S$11.65 million) after stopping a "suspicious" pick-up truck in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.
"Authorities found many carton boxes with objects that looked like heroin blocks," according to Cong An Nhan Dan, the official mouthpiece of the Ministry of Public Security.
"Two suspects were detained, including a Chinese person," it added in its report on Thursday.
Police launched searches of several properties in Ho Chi Minh City after the bust and said the investigation would expand.
A witness at the scene reported seeing a lot of police. "They surrounded a large area (and) took many boxes out of the car," according to state-controlled VNExpress news site.
The bust follows a seizure in the city last week involving 16 Chinese citizens and three Vietnamese accused of running a major drug ring under the guise of a textile business.
Police found 300kg of methamphetamine in a luxury home in the bust and said the ring likely extended to other branches in the country.
Days later, the authorities in the Philippines seized more than 270kg of meth linked to the Chinese-run Ho Chi Minh City cartel.
Though heroin and opium have long been the drug of choice in Vietnam, the use of synthetic party drugs is on the rise, especially among young people.
Drug laws in Vietnam are among the harshest in the world. Anyone caught with more than 600g of heroin or more than 2.5kg of methamphetamine can face the death penalty.