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An open-air drug market in Saigon

Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 10:14 GMT+7

Many people living around the An Suong Bus Station on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City live in fear, as drug buyers and sellers face little difficulty accessing illicit products in an open-air drug market.

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The drug market, which operates all day, has severely affected the quality of life of many who live in a 1.5km long area stretching from the An Suong flyover to Trung Tranh intersection in District 12.

Tuoi Tre Newspaper reporters, the authors of this photo report, said locals have to close their doors as early as 6pm on a daily basis to avoid risks from rampant drug dealing and use.

A local resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Tuoi Tre that three people have been found dead from drug overdoses in front of her house since the beginning of the month. Drug addicts even defecate and urinate in front of houses in the area.

Others said there are 20 non-resident drug dealers operating around the bus station. According to them, the sellers disguise themselves as poor laborers wearing old clothes and carrying hand-bags. They work in three shifts on a daily basis: 5am to 8am, 11am to 2pm, and 4pm to 9pm.

The drug dealers also pay commissions to xe om (motorbike taxi drivers) who solicit consumers to purchase their drugs.

Tuoi Tre reporters have seen a suspected drug dealer being arrested by local police. However, the suspect was released after police found no drugs on him.

The suspected dealers often hide drugs under trees planted on the medians along streets, or divide the products into smaller amounts and conceal them in cell phones or even in their rectums to avoid getting arrested.

Nguyen Van Dung, an official at the HCMC Department of Public Security, said that as of late May, the city government recorded 19,213 drug addicts. Dung admitted that the number of people abusing drugs is, in reality, much bigger.

At a meeting with authorities in Ho Chi Minh City on October 6, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, expressed his great concern over the fact that drugs addicts gather to use drugs in public areas or beg for money from people in parks. 

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A man is pictured injecting heroin into a vein of an addict in a public area close to the An Suong bus station in District 12. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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A man uses drugs in a public area close to Trung Chanh intersection in District 12.

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An open-air drug market surrounding the An Suong bus station leaves many local residents scared.

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The illicit drug trade in the area is cautiously guarded.

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Drugs are hidden in clothes.

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A man in white T-shirt quickly takes drugs from a masked seller.  

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The drug market around the An Suong bus station operates as a black market.

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A woman uses heroin in a public area.

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A suspected drug dealer hides in the bushes to avoid police.

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A man shoots heroin on a median strip close to An Suong bus station.

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Dealers conceal drugs in the bushes.

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Drug addicts force children to beg for money for them.

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A drug transaction takes place in a public area.

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Rampant drug use scares local residents.

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A suspected drug dealer is released after local authorities find no drugs on him. 

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Drugs dealers divide the illicit products into smaller amounts to sell to drug addicts.

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