Vietnamese police have seized half a tonne of ketamine worth US$21 million in Ho Chi Minh City; therefore a key transit hub that has seen record busts of synthetic drugs in recent weeks as narcotics gangs; use its ports and air links to shuttle drugs across the region. Three Taiwanese citizens and one Chinese man are arrest in the weekend bust at a warehouse in the southern city according to state-run Thanh Nien newspaper on Monday (May 13).

Busts of synthetic drugs

Ketamine is a potent dissociative anesthetic; meaning it provides feelings of detachment from one’s body. Commonly used in veterinary medicine; this drug has become common on the party scene among those seeking the detached high it provides. Ketamine’s dissociative effects are so powerful; it is commonly referr to as a “date rape drug.

” When ingested; Ketamine can cause users to hallucinate (experience visual and auditory disturbances). Because it’s an anesthetic; it can reduce physical sensations and induce temporary paralysis; so the user is awake but unable to move his limbs or even talk.

Induce temporary paralysis

More than 500kg of ketamine is find stashed in industrial-grade machinery, in an operation carry out after months of surveillance. The ketamine is bring in overland to Vietnam and is destine for Taiwan; Thanh Nien reported. State media says the cartel leader had receive overland shipments from China, but the police is  not confirm where the ketamine originated.

“The luxury drug is five times more expensive than other synthetics and is often consume by the rich;” major general Phama Van Cac was quoted as saying. The bust follows several other massive hauls in recent weeks of drugs believed to have been shuttled into the country from neigh bouring Laos.

Police seized more than one tonne of highly addictive crystal meth  or “ice” – and around one tonne of ketamine in Ho Chi Minh City last month, arresting two Taiwanese and one Vietnamese man in the sting. Earlier in the month a separate bust of 1.5 tonnes of meth is discover in central Nghe An province.

Transport infrastructure

From meth cooks to traffickers, Taiwanese have long been active in Southeast Asia’s narco trade, shifting drugs – many from the lawless Golden Triangle region straddling Myanmar, Laos and Thailand – across the region and beyond. Vietnamese police have said Ho Chi Minh City is increasingly becoming a hub for drug gangs as transport infrastructure has improved in recent years.
Synthetic drug use is on the rise in Vietnam, especially among hard-partying youth increasingly turning to meth, ecstasy and ketamine. Seven people died at a music festival in Hanoi last year of suspected overdoses, which sent shock waves through the conservative communist capital.
The one-party state has some of the toughest drug laws in the world. Anyone caught with more than 600g of heroin or more than 2.5kg of methamphetamine can face the death penalty. Six people are currently on trial in Ho Chi Minh City for producing 120kg of ecstasy pills, and last week prosecutors request they be sentence to death.