Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2005
Source: Asian Pacific Post, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Asian Pacific Post.


The young teen goes by the initial "H" and he is the "captain" of a
group of six youths who roam the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

H looks like he became captain of the group by virtue of him having a
sister in Canada who carries marijuana back home when she comes to

Canadian grass is genuine stuff, even wealthy youths in Hanoi can
hardly buy it, says H. The six of them often have "Canadian grass
parties" at H's house. "We can smoke as much as we want since traces
of marijuana cannot be detected by urine tests," the young boy told a
Vietnamese newspaper.

"Canada grass is the best marijuana in the world."

Group member Hai says that after smoking Canadian grass, it takes him
four to five hours to get home although he lives just two kilometers
away by motorbike.

"When I'm driving, I feel like I'm walking on clouds. The streets are
noisy, but I can't even hear the sound of my bike's horn," Hai says.

Tuan, another group member, says whenever he smokes grass, he cannot
wait to listen to music.

"After smoking, I don't want to do anything but lie down, listen to
music and talk," Tuan mouths and suddenly bursts into tears.

In the city of Suwon, South Korea prosecutors are preparing for a huge
court trial involving a drug smuggling ring that hired female Korean
students in Vancouver to carry narcotics valued at over C$316.6 million.

The Suwon district attorney's office has so far booked 45 people and
detained 18 of them on charges of trafficking in narcotics, including
five students they say were running the drugs.

Prosecutors say the group since March 2004 approached Korean women
studying English in Vancouver to sign them up as mules for its
operation. The group offered to pay their airfare as well as W1.5
million (about C$1,826) each time they took small quantities of drugs
to Australia, Japan and Korea.

The women would carry packs of up to 1 kilogram of cocaine or speed
strapped to their torso under a maternity support belt, prosecutors
say. There are an estimated 10,000 Korean students in Vancouver.

Korean media also reported that that drug smuggling through the
international mail has drastically increased this year, and many of
the culprits are foreign English teachers residing in Korea.

Entering this year, Korean authorities have made 43 busts involving
attempts to smuggle drugs into the country. Twenty-seven were through
international mail, double last year's total.

Police believe this is due to the popularity of Internet "black

In particular, there have been reports that English teachers who used
to smoke pot in Canada and elsewhere were driving this illicit trade.

In Taiwan, authorities there are mulling over testing foreign workers,
especially English teachers, for marijuana use before issuing permits
following reports of increased drug use.

Police officers in Canada and the U.S. say the recent spate of busts
and news stories of Canadian narcotics in Asia illustrates a growing
trend where gangs are using "mules of very different varieties" to
carry drugs.

"The Korean student in Vancouver who has blown her allowance or the
Japanese tourist who has melted his credit card are all viable
targets," said a Vancouver-based drug officer.

"Many grow-op houses are run by Vietnamese-Canadians, this is a trend
we see and it's not a racist comment. You can judge for yourself why
B.C. bud is so hot in Vietnam today," he said.

British Columbia has long been the hub of sophisticated, high-tech
marijuana nurseries capable of producing pot with nearly 30 times the
kick of what was found on the street a decade ago, according to the
Drug Enforcement Agency.

And Vancouver is home to some 7,000 "grow ops" at any time, police say
with some estimates showing the criminal industry to be worth billions
and BC's biggest cash crop.

In Vietnam, a recent series of massive drug operations has caused
ecstasy supplies to run dry in Hanoi forcing local young addicts to
turn to marijuana.

Local media said the two most obtainable forms of marijuana in Hanoi
now are known by their street names: "Canadian grass", which is
smuggled from Canada, and "Tai Ma", meaning Great Hemp.

Over the last two years, before the recent crackdown, a gram of the so
called Canadian grass cost 800,000 to 1,200,000 Dong, or C$60 to C$91
at the local "marijuana market."

But now, marijuana sales are more discreet and selling points have
moved to more secret areas in small interlacing alleys around the
city, a newspaper report said.

A Canadian grass joint now costs 100,000 VND, or C$7.66.

The use of non-traditional mules to carry drugs from Canada to Asia
does not perturb a veteran drug enforcement officer at the BC-US border.

"If the drugs were coming in and they got caught, they will probably
get a slap on the wrist and be sent on their way. The risk they are
taking by carrying drugs to Asia is crazy. Vietnam has the death
penalty and so have many other countries.

"If they want to take the risk of long jail time or the noose for a
few thousand dollars so be it," he said.

The recent spate of drug mule arrests come on the heels of at least
three major international busts involving links to Vancouver.

Last month Federal agents in San Francisco raided three medical pot
clubs run by a group which has ties to Singapore and Vancouver.

Authorities claim the clubs were allegedly laundering millions of
medical-marijuana dollars through a number of specialized gardening
centers catering to pot growers.

"This is not a medical marijuana thing," said a high-ranking law
enforcement official who has been working on the case for months.

"This is an organized, criminal conspiracy to launder money, to make a
ton of profit utilizing sick people and the medical marijuana laws of
the state of California."

Business student Van Nguyen, 27, the proprietor of the Herbal Relief
Center in San Francisco, was not arrested.

In New Zealand, police said they have dismantled a huge drug operation
that was mailing cocaine from Canada to Auckland.

The cocaine worth C$3.5 million was sent in 259 letters to post office
boxes around Auckland.

Police believe that the drugs, which were posted from Canada in
envelopes bearing Canadian charities' logos, may have been destined
for on-shipment to Australia.

In Australia, a Canadian of Iranian descent with links to Vancouver
has been charged as part of a drug sting surrounding 11 kilometres of
amphetamine imported via a US warship.

Mehdi Mohammadi, carries a Canadian passport but has been living at
the Gold Coast for two years with his Australian wife.

At a bail application hearing, the court heard Mohammadi was born in
Iran, carried at least two passports, and had numerous associates
across Iran, Canada and Japan.

He was charged along with two American sailors. It is alleged the trio
imported more than 11 kilograms of an amphetamine-based substance into
Townsville, Australia in June this year.

The drugs allegedly were onboard the USS Boxer, which was part of a
major joint military exercise between the US and Australia. 
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