Police on Friday killed two remaining members of a heavily armed drug ring who continued to hold their ground inside bunkers in the northern province of Son La, after two gang leaders had been shot dead the day earlier in a tense standoff.
In total, the four-day standoff ended with four deaths and three captures, with no casualties suffered by the police forces.
Ten military firearms of different types, over 4,000 bullets and many different types of hand grenades and explosives were found inside the gang’s fortified compound in the commune of Long Luong in Son La’s Van Ho District.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday praised the Ministry of Public Security and police departments of Son La and Hoa Binh Provinces as well as all officers involved in the mission for their courage.
‘The grand offensive’
The mission to capture two drug kingpins behind a high-profile 2015 case, when police busted the transportation of 490 bricks of heroin in Hanoi, began on Tuesday when over 300 officers from central and local police units were dispatched to the gang’s hideout in Son La.
Tuan and Thuan, whom police suspect to be behind other drug cases totaling 2,700 bricks of heroin in volume, have been on the run since then but still managed to operate the crime syndicate with their expansive web of followers and associates.
Armored vehicles were also mobilized to the police’s aid for the mission, as the drug ring was known to be heavily armed and would be willing to open fire at the sight of any stranger in their proximity.
Multiple police checkpoints were also set up within a three-kilometer parameter from the compound to insect everyone entering or leaving the location.
|Armed police officers inspect cargo at a checkpoint on a road leading to the drug ring’s compound in Son La Province in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Civilians living within the area had been evacuated to safety before police launched a raid into the gang’s headquarters on Wednesday, leading to a gun battle which lasted until Thursday evening.
The wanted kingpins, Nguyen Thanh Tuan and Nguyen Van Thuan, were killed in the firefight as three of their followers surrendered to the police on Thursday.
However, two gang members still held their ground inside the fortified bunkers, equipped with security cameras and safeguarded by barbed wires, and pushed the officers back for another day using readily available ammunition inside the hideout.
It was not until Friday that police were able to neutralize the two remaining suspects, officially concluding a successful mission with no casualties on the law enforcement side.
During the four-day standoff, the suspects were found to be using Facebook to broadcast the shootout live on the social media, accusing the officers of “attacking civilians”.
They also showed off their stock of firearms and bid goodbye to their friends and families on the social media.
|Firearms and ammunitions are found inside the fortified bunkers of a drug ring in Son La Province in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|