Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court Wednesday sentenced Nigerian Ben Blessed to life imprisonment for smuggling over 1 kilogram of heroin from Vietnam to China.
Photo: Nguoi Lao Dong
Three of his accomplices were also arrested and given sentences. Anyanwu Chima Stanley was sentenced to 30 years in jail for illegal possession and transportation of drugs; Ozogu John and Pham Thi Thanh Trang each received a 20-year sentence for illegally transporting drugs.
They were also fined VND20million (US$1000) to VND50million (US$2500) each.
Ben, 31, came to Vietnam in 2008 as a tourist and stayed on in HCMC illegally after his visa expired. He and John hired Trang and some Vietnamese girls to smuggle drugs from foreign countries into Vietnam and then deliver the drugs to China.
They had successfully transported the drugs to China many times until July 2009 when Trang was seized while carrying 692.9 grams of heroin to China.
The heroin was earlier smuggled by Trang, paid US$700 for the mule job, from Pakistan into Vietnam. The drugs were then put into small nylon bags and hidden in shoe soles before being smuggled to China.
Following Trang’s confession, the police arrested Ben, John and Chima and found 1,094 kilograms of heroin hidden in T-shirt buttons and shoe soles at Ben’s house.
At the court hearing, the Nigerian men pleaded not guilty, claiming their earlier confessions were obtained by police coercion and misunderstanding caused by the language barrier.
Still, the judges rejected their explanations.