HCMC – The police of Dong Nai Province on March 9 arrested Le Thanh Tu, aged 55, and his wife, Tran Thi Thanh Van, aged 53, who are the owners of Van Truc Trading and Services Co., Ltd, to probe into their alleged fuel smuggling after they raided 10 Van Truc petrol stations.
Vu Hong Van, director of the provincial Police Department, on the evening of March 9 directed local police divisions to team up with Ministry of Public Security officers to set up 12 working teams comprising nearly 400 policemen to raid 10 locations, which are storehouses, gas stations, workplaces and the houses of those allegedly involved in the ring in HCMC and the neighboring province of Binh Duong.
The police raid followed the expansion of an investigation by the Dong Nai police into the 2.7-million-liter fake fuel ring busted on February 6, with some ringleaders already detained.
During the investigation, the police discovered that Le Thanh Tu and his wife, both residing in Thu Duc City of HCMC, had bought smuggled, fake petrol products from Phan Thanh Huu and Nguyen Huu Tu, who co-led the ring of smuggling, producing and trading fake fuel and then distributed it to the market.
According to the police, Van Truc Company is headquartered in Binh Hoa Ward, Thuan An City of Binh Duong Province. Tu and Van also established 11 more branches of the company in Binh Duong and HCMC.
To purchase the smuggled, fake fuel for sale, Tu and Van built a river port which can handle 1,000-ton vessels and used four vessels of 400-1,000 tons to transport the smuggled, fake fuel. They also built a storehouse with seven storage tanks whose total capacity is some 4.5 million liters.
They admitted they bought, mixed and distributed fake fuel to the petrol stations of Van Truc Company. Besides this, Tu and Van distributed fake fuel to petrol stations in the southern provinces and cities such as Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and HCMC, providing an average of over 500,000 liters of fake fuel per day to the market.
The police seized four vessels of 400-1,000 tons, five tank trucks, one car, 21 computers, one laptop, 21 mobile phones, 10 digital video recorders, more than VND1.2 billion in cash, 15 land use rights certificates and 1.2 kilograms of colored powder used to produce fake fuel. The police also sealed off 38 fuel storage tanks and 39 cartons of documents.
Earlier, the police had arrested two other people linked to this major fake fuel ring on March 5. They were Duong Van Man, 43, residing in Nam Dinh Province and Trinh Xuan Mo, 37, residing in HCMC. Man and Mo were captains of Nhat Minh 07 and Nhat Minh 09 vessels, respectively.
The suspects used the two vessels to transport the fake fuel, according to the police.
On February 6, while being chased by the police, they crashed the two vessels into the ships of the law enforcement agencies and escaped. They later repainted the vessels to dodge the police chase.
However, they were detected while anchoring the ships at a wharf on the Hau River in Ke Sach District, Soc Trang Province.
The police also arrested and prosecuted two sailors of the Nhat Minh 07 vessel and a machinist of the Nhat Minh 09 vessel over alleged charges of smuggling.