UTS Translational Criminology Seminar Series

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Not just ‘Herding Cats’- Vietnamese cannabis gangs and law enforcement

Join UTS Criminology and the Crime and Security Science Research Group for our third seminar of 2024

Vietnamese-born prisoners have been considered at the highest rates among most serious offences/charges excluding Australia and New Zealand, almost drug-related offences, higher than the UK-born and Chinese-born. Appearances of Vietnamese-ethnicity groups involved, either directly or indirectly, in cultivating, manufacturing, and trading cannabis.

The illegal employment of Vietnamese ‘crop-sitters’ in Australia, who are employed to stay in the grow house to take care of cannabis plants, is ongoing. Based on previous empirical studies, Luong (2014, 2017, 2019, 2020) tested and clarified family ties and fellow-countrymen associations as the most prioritised forms of those Vietnamese drug trafficking networks.

Currently, many authorities are considering those Vietnamese groups in Australia to set up three levels – head (whom they organise and manage the whole process), facilitator (whom they provide spiritual or material assistance in cultivation), and crop-sitter (whom they look after cannabis plants). In contrast, the Herding Cats (dân chăn mèo in Vietnamese) – a memoir of former Vietnamese cannabis insiders, described the most insightful details of why and how dân chăn mèo arrange and design inclusive scenarios with more than three levels to survive, operate, and maintain their millionaire industry in Australia.

My current study uses triangulated qualitative methods to collect and analyse data, including content analysis from a court/tribunal statement, a former Vietnamese cannabis crop-sitter memoir, and an in-depth interview with this author. The findings unveil 1) the trend and pattern of Vietnamese cannabis gangs, 2) the structure of those groups, and 3) the modus operandi to avoid law enforcement monitors.

Guest Speaker: Dr Hai Luong
Dr Hai Luong is a lecturer in criminology at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University. Dr Luong is also a member of the Global Initiative Network’s Expert against Transnational Organized Crime (GI TOC) and a senior researcher and chair of the Asian Drug Crime Research Committee at the Institute for Asian Crime and Security (IACS).

He has a Bachelor of Law (Criminal Investigation) and has spent twenty years researching and teaching in police institutions across the mainland Southeast Asian region, particularly in Vietnam. In 2010, as one of the new emergent scholars for the Australian Development Scholarship in non-traditional security threat fields, he was awarded a full scholarship to gain a master’s degree (Transnational Crime Prevention) at the University of Wollongong before achieving a PhD (Criminology) in 2017 at RMIT University.

As a member of the Asian Regional Law Enforcement Management Program (ARLEMP), funded by the Australian Federal Police and hosted by the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam and RMIT Hanoi, he contributed to building a comprehensive connection among law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and academia across Asian countries to prevent and combat serious and transnational crimes since 2005. His interests include cybercrime, policing in cybercrime/cybersecurity, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, police training, and transnational criminal law matters. His latest book ‘Transnational Drug Trafficking across the Vietnam and Laos Border’ was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.

He has also published several papers in various academic journals (Asian Survey; Journal of Crime and Justice; International Journal of Cyber Criminology; International Journal of Drug Policy; Policing and Society; International Journal of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy; and Trends in Organized Crime, among others). In 2020, he was awarded the Young Asian Criminologists from the Asian Criminological Society (ASC).

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UTS City Campus, Building 10 Level 03, Room 470, 235-253 Jones St.
Ultimo, NSW 2007 Australia
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