Eight members of a trafficking ring, aged between 38 and 65 and led by drug lord Phan Huu Hieu, were given death sentences on Monday after a week-long trial found them guilty of transporting 132kg of heroin and 55kg of methamphetamines, Viet Nam News reported, quoting the court.

One gang member was spared death and instead sentenced to life in prison.

"Most of the defendants sincerely admitted their crime and asked for leniency," secretary of the court Luu Quoc Khanh told DPA.

The case first came to light in July 2018 after police carried out a crackdown and arrested nine people involved in the gang, which had been trafficking drugs from Laos to Danang in Central Vietnam, before selling the narcotics to other regions via an extensive network.

In a separate case on Monday, Son La Province's court, located three hours north-west of Hanoi, issued three death penalties, two life sentences and one 18-year sentence for the same charge, according to local newspaper VnExpress.

Since the beginning of the year, the authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have seized more than 1.6 tonnes of drugs, marking a tenfold increase on the same period last year, Mr Phung Van Dang, deputy head of the city's anti-drug police department, said at a meeting last week.

Under Vietnamese law, the production or sale of 100g of heroin or cocaine, or 300g of methamphetamines, warrants the death penalty.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - October 8,2019