HANOI (AFP) – Vietnamese police have seized half a tonne of ketamine worth $21 million in Ho Chi Minh City, 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 were arrested in the weekend bust at a warehouse in the southern city according to Thanh Nien newspaper on Monday.
More than 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of ketamine was found stashed in industrial-grade machinery, in an operation carried out after months of surveillance.
The ketamine was brought in overland to Vietnam and was destined for Taiwan, Thanh Nien reported.
State media said the cartel leader had received overland shipments from China, but the police would not confirm where the ketamine originated.
“The luxury drug is five times more expensive than other synthetics and is often consumed by the rich,” major general Pham Van Cac was quoted as saying.
The bust follows several other massive hauls in recent weeks of drugs believed to have been shuttled in from neighbouring 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.