SƠN LA — With no more tears to cry, Lò Thị Xăm’s only hope is that her two sons can “love their mother more”. The Thai ethnic lady, living in Phát Village, Lóng Sập Ward, lost her husband to a drug overdose nearly ten years ago. Unfortunately, her sons seem to be on the same path.
“In 2010, my husband became addicted to drugs. After that, he went to work in Laos for food and drugs, then died there in 2012. At least his remains were shipped home for burial,” she said.
After the death of her husband, all Xăm’s love is for her two sons, Hà Văn Hương and Hà Văn Hùng. However, they began using heroin and quickly became addicted. Hùng is undergoing compulsory detoxification while Hương is being treated with methadone.
“My friends dropped out of school and started using drugs at a young age. Now, ten of them are in rehab. The village has no more young people,” Hương said.
Hương and Hùng are only two of 197 drug abusers living in the area, according to Lò Văn Đức, head of Lóng Sập Ward’s Police Department.
Buốc Pát, an isolated village about 27km from the district’s centre, is home to many drug addicts. “Some died, some are in rehab, some are imprisoned while others work in Laos for drugs,” said Đức.
The situation is similar in the neighbouring villages of Chiềng Khừa, Mường Sang or other villages in districts of Vân Hồ and Sốp Cộp. Hoàng Thị Xiền of Chiềng Khừa District’s Khua Village said: “My husband passed away. One of my sons died from drugs, another is in rehab”.
Fight against drugs
Lóng Sập is Mộc Châu District’s border ward, sharing nearly 30km of border with Sốp Bâu District, Laos. Lóng Sập Border Gate is good for trading, but also creates good conditions for drug trafficking.
Residents have asked local authorities to consider drug trafficking a serious issue. They believe that only by blocking the supply, educating people about harms of drugs and the Government’s regulations and implementing compulsory detoxification, can the harms of drugs be tackled.
However, the situation is getting worse. In 2016, Sơn La Province’s police detected 860 drug-related cases and arrested 1,391 criminals. In the first six months of 2017, they detected 551 cases with 907 criminals. Mộc Châu District police investigated 130 cases and 249 criminals in 2016 as well as 111 cases and criminals in first six months of 2017.
279LL is a case managed by the Ministry of Public Security with police of Mộc Châu and Vân Hồ districts and other related agencies.
In the fifth phase of the case, police had five gunfights with armed Mông ethnic groups, seizing 400 heroin bricks, synthetic drugs and several guns.
In the eighth phase, on July 22, 2017, forces arrested Mùa A Hử of Laos’s Sốp Bâu District, seized 28 heroin bricks and a gun. Expanding the investigation, they arrested two others from Pu Nhan Village, Lóng Sập Ward.
“This is a serious issue. We have to fight as hard as possible so that they will not dare to smuggle drugs,” said Đức.
On the difficulties of fighting drugs, Trần Nam Hưng, deputy director of Lóng Sập Border Guard Station said “Drug dealers have networks with people in and outside the area. Therefore, it is hard for us to investigate them.”
Say no to abetting
Because of economic difficulties, locals can be bribed and become cogs in the drug dealers’ networks. While drugs can bring profits to some people, they also destroy the lives of others.
Tạ Văn Tuệ, deputy head of drug prevention department under Mộc Châu Police recommended people not help criminals store drugs, as they could go to jail and cause others to die.
Tuệ has many experiences in the war on drugs. On July 19, 2014, he and other officers chased 25 drug traffickers. A fireight ensued, leaving Lường Phát Chiêm of Sơn La Province’s Police dead and Nguyễn Mạnh Hà wounded.
Lóng Sập Border Gate or Lóng Luông Ward seems peaceful in the day, surrounded by broad green hills. “However, at night, it is the most intensive area of drug crime,” said Lò My Sàng whose son is in prison for using drugs. Her only hope now is that her community will be rid of drugs. — VNS