Seizure of guns ends up a bust

Things can get lost in the mail but what happens when it's a box filled with weapons?

Customs officers at Vietnam's Tan Son Nhat Airport made the discovery last Friday afternoon when conducting a random inspection of a flight from Turkey.

In a large box, customs officers at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City found some 100 guns and hundreds of ammunition cartridges.

Fears of a national security breach rippled through the airport and Vietnamese customs officials declared it the biggest arms smuggling bust in the nation's history and immediately seized the weapons for investigations.

But it was soon discovered that the guns had in fact been ordered by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), and wrongly delivered to Vietnam after the consignment transited in Turkey.

"Police confirm that a consignment of firearms ordered by the SPF was mistakenly delivered to Vietnam by the freight company involved," an SPF spokesman told The New Paper yesterday.

"The manufacturer and freight company are working with the Vietnamese authorities to reroute the shipment to Singapore."

She added that it is unclear if this is the first time such a mix-up has occurred, and that the "wrong delivery is attributed to the actions of the manufacturer and the freight company and not SPF".

Vietnam officials, though relieved that the security scare was a false alarm, are no less puzzled as to how the guns ended up in their hands if they had been originally bound for Singapore.

According to Ho Chi Minh City's police news notices, the pistols were purchased by their Singaporean counterparts from a Czech manufacturer, Ceska Zbrojovka.

All 94 guns found in the cardboard box seized were CZ P-07 pistols - the "latest high-capacity service pistols" produced by the brand, created primarily for use in the armed forces.

The 472 gun magazines in the consignment were all empty, reported Vietnam's Thanh Nien News.

Another Vietnamese news site, Tuoi Tre News, reported that the shipment was coded 'SG', and speculated that cargo loaders could have mistaken that to mean Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City's former name.

Authorities from Turkey, Singapore and Vietnam are working together to have the guns delivered to their rightful owners.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 5, 2015.
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