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Vietnam uncovers 90,000 cases of smuggling in first half of 2017

he number of cases may have fallen, but authorities say that just means smugglers are becoming more sophisticated.

Authorities in Vietnam uncovered nearly 90,000 cases of smuggling in the first half of this year, and were able to take 1,200 of those cases to court, slightly less than the figures from last year, according to National Steering Committee 389, the government’s anti-smuggling body.

During that time, more than $350 million was collected from administrative fines, the sale of confiscated goods and tax arrears, up 40 percent against the same period last year.

However, although the number of detected cases may have fallen, it does not mean that smuggling and fraud are on the decrease, the committee warned. It just means the situation is becoming more complex and that culprits are using more sophisticated tricks to avoid detection.

Essential consumer products including cosmetics and supplements, heavily taxed goods such as tobacco and wine, and banned goods such as drugs, petrol, gas, elephant ivory and rhino horn were among the most smuggled goods, according to the committee.

“Smugglers often bring their goods in from China, slap a ‘Made in Vietnam’ label on them and then sell the contraband to unsuspecting customers,” said Le Hong Son, a member of the committee. “Counterfeit products range from sweets and cosmetics, to lightbulbs and clothes.”

Smuggling continues unabated despite heightened efforts to stem it, especially in border areas where criminals take advantage of remote locations to transport their goods along hidden trails and small streams sheltered by the forest, the committee noted.

More contraband petrol and gas has been finding its way into the country recently, they added, since prices in Vietnam are higher than in other countries in the region. A favored method is to use a foreign ship to transport oil and gas to Vietnam’s maritime border and then split the stock between local fishing boats.