Over 500 drug addicts escape from rehabilitation center

More than 500 inmates in a drug rehabilitation center in the southern province of Dong Nai, around 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, struck down its gates and escaped on October 23. 

A majority of them have remained at large.

Ho Van Loc, the deputy director of Dong Nai’s social affairs department, said “over 500 inmates” broke through the Dong Nai center’s gates in Xuan Loc District at around 11 p.m. on October 23. 
They then flocked to the National Route 1A, the trans-Vietnam highway, blocking traffic, Loc said.

Police are deployed to maintain order on the streets and to track down the fleeing drug addicts in Xuan Loc District, Dong Nai Province. Photo by VnExpress

There have been no reports of clashes between the inmates and the center’s security guards as well as police deployed to maintain order on the streets. But according to eyewitnesses, the inmates threatened bystanders with sticks or machetes to extract their money. “They were screaming so loudly, scaring people,” an eyewitness said.

Many others broke into people's houses and vandalized their properties.

According to Dong Nai’s police department, the police were able to arrest dozens of inmates as of 1 a.m. on October 24. Authorities said they were scrambling to track down the rest.

The Dong Nai center is currently housing nearly 1,500 inmates, doubling its designed capacity.

Several large escapes have been reported across Vietnam in recent years following a government order to increase the period of mandatory rehab treatment from one to two years.

Vietnam currently has around 180,000 addicts, many of them intravenous drug users.

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