Hanoi police said on Friday they arrested and launched criminal investigation against a man allegedly behind a protection racket that has been terrorizing merchants at the capital city’ iconic Long Bien Market.
Located in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District, Long Bien Market is the capital city’s second-largest market, offering fruits and other foodstuff at wholesale prices.
Nguyen Kim Hung, a.k.a. Hung ‘kinh’, was arrested for investigation into alleged “property appropriation”, according to Nguyen Van Vien, deputy chief of Hanoi police.
Hung had abused his power as leader of the market’s porter team to squeeze merchants into paying them for “protection”.
Each merchant was forced to pay Hung’s gang VND200,000-300,000 (US$8.5-13) despite not using their porter service.
Documents and invoices linked to the racket’s rampant activities were also found after a search inside the office of the deputy head of Long Bien Market’s management authority, police said on Friday.
Current evidence suggests the group had appropriated VND17 million ($732) from the illegal activities.
At the time of his arrest, Hung was in hospital waiting to undergo organ transplant, Vien said.
Nguyen Huu Tien, a lifter at Long Bien Market who works under Hung’s command, was also arrested the same day for investigation into the case.
Friday’s captures have raised the total number of people arrested for links to protection activities at Long Bien Market to five.
On December 5, three of Hung’s followers, Duong Quoc Vuong, Nguyen Manh Long and Le Thanh Hai, were arrested over a similar allegation.
Criminal investigation into the protection racket at Long Bien Market was first launched on October 1, after a local merchant collected evidence and reported to authorities about their activities.
The whistleblower said they had been forced to pay over VND100 million ($4,300) to the group so that their trucks can safely load and unload goods at their kiosk.
Failure to pay often results in threats, obstruction of business and “warnings” with dirty substances and rotting fish.