Police in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai have arrested members of a racket that forced hundreds of merchants operating near a local industrial park to pay them ‘protection money’ in order to carry on with their business.
The provincial Department of Police confirmed on Tuesday they had apprehended Ly Thi Loan, 39, and Hoang Thi Tuyet Nhung, 35, who are the two gang leaders, along with their subordinates.
The suspects were caught red-handed collecting ‘protection money’ from sellers in front of the Thach Phu Industrial Park in Vinh Cuu District at 3:00 pm the same day.
More than 100 officers raided the location and apprehended more than ten members of the gang.
Preliminary information showed that the gang had targeted hundreds of merchants who sell necessities to workers at the industrial park.
|Police officers are mobilized to arrest members of a protection racket in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam, May 5, 2020. Photo: B.A. / Tuoi Tre|
They used violence to threaten the victims and forced them to pay ‘protection money’ worth VND50,000 (US$2.14) per day or VND1-1.5 million ($42-64) a month.
According to N.T.D., one of the merchants, the gang had operated for quite a long time.
D. herself had had to pay VND1.2 million ($51) a month to avoid trouble and ensure her livelihood.
Many of the victims eventually had enough and decided to report the crime to police officers.
Police have collected CCTV footage and statements from relevant individuals and will search the suspects’ houses to assist in their investigation.
Using violence to collect ‘protection money’ is punishable by at least one to five years in prison, according to Vietnam’s Penal Code.
|A protection racket gang member shows the ‘protection money’ he had taken from merchants in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam, May 5, 2020. Photo: B.A. / Tuoi Tre|