Hong Van Station Border Guards patrol to the national landmark
In A Luoi Upland (Thua Thien Hue Province), the afternoon descends faster when the mountain dew blurs the paths, urging the people back home from the fields. Late at night in the mountain village, flickering fire stoves in the stilt houses are dispelling chill. While the people are in a deep sleep, border guards are quietly patrolling, guarding to defend security.
Early spring feats
The mountain and forest by night are already cold. On the night of 23 February (the 8th day of the Lunar New Year), a bitter cold spell kept A Luoi chilled to the bone. Among the boundless and deserted mountains lies Pe Ke Pass between Hong Van and Hong Thuy Commune (A Luoi District)
On the top of the pass, in chill mist, the soldiers in green military uniform of the Task Forces Squad under Drug and Crime Prevention Bureau of the provincial Border Guards coordinated with the force of the Drug and Criminal Prevention Team of Hong Van Border Guard Station quietly mingled into the mountain and forest.
This was the site and time for the soldiers to perform a critical task - to hunt Ho Van Ta (born in 1989, residing at Hong Kim Commune, A Luoi District), a drug criminal. Time passed bit by bit ... Last night was a sleepless night, tonight again, but everyone was ready in the formation.
When the clock hand inched past 0 a.m., the motorbike screeched at the foot of the slope, proving that the object ran at a top speed. When Ta's motorcycle carrying a girl was about fifteen meters away from the border guards' formation, the headlights were suddenly turned on, beaming straight to the object. Simultaneously, the force showed up, flashed lights, and signaled for him to stop.
Too unexpectedly, the object slowed down, but after a few seconds, he accelerated straight to the force on duty in the hope of escaping. With martial arts, they quickly overpowered the object together with the exhibit of 181 synthetic drug pills. In the face of undeniable evidence, Ta bowed to plead guilty.
These evidences cost the unceasing time of scouting the situation of the area, discovering the object has been a drug user for more than a year and trafficked in drugs many times to feed his addiction. For months on end, the task force played the bridge workers, electricians, bird trappers to keep track of the object’s every move. When the time was ripe, the teams of scouts and hunting started "to raise fishing net".
It has taken eleven hours running to chase the object on the nearly-300- kilometer path since Ta together with his girlfriend left home at Hong Kim Commune at 13.15 p.m. The couple rode a motorbike along Ho Chi Minh Road to Ta Rut and then to Khe Sanh (Quang Tri Province). Meanwhile, the object carried a girlfriend to his friend’s house, and then to the guesthouse. 70 minutes later, he went around alone to meet "the customer” for transaction.
Back to the guesthouse, Ta and his girlfriend stayed in it for 3 hours; the scouts kept treading on their heels. At 22 p.m., the couple left the guesthouse, and returned to A Luoi. An officer in charge of the task recounted the investigation.
With all their calculations and risky, sophisticated trickery, drug criminals did not expect the border guards had known their violations like an open book.
During this trip to A Luoi, I went through Pe Ke Pass with the beauty of verdant forest leaves in the noon sunlight. With the eyes of thought and concern, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Dung, deputy head of Drug and Crime Prevention Bureau of the provincial Border Guards. Lieutenant Luong Son Trung, investigation officer, Lieutenant Bui Van Ben, head of Drug and Criminal Prevention Team of Hong Van Border Guard Station... told about the tears of Ta’s mother when she knew of Ta’s drug addiction and being arrested.
They felt great compassion for each time the mother shed tears expressing anxiety, love, anger ..., but it is “suffering” after all.
Love urges the soldiers to overcome all the difficulties to bring peace to life. Therefore, when playing workers, their hands got calloused from mowing off grass, or when playing bird trappers, fish catchers, they wandered in forest or stream edges regardless of rain or shine. As a consequence of tracking the objects, they frequently feel dizzy and have hollow cheeks. Once an object drove straight to the formation, they would block him in the spirit of taking on peril.
There were the times of hunting explosive traffickers, weaving through forests for a week on end, but the soldiers did not dare bring more food, clothes, and hammocks to avoid bulkiness and traces left. When rice was off, they picked wild vegetables and cooked snail soup. By night, they slept in the deserted tents; mosquitoes, leeches stuck all over their face and body. Especially dangerous was when snakes crawled across the body.
It is impossible to relate all the hardships on the paths of hunting criminals. But the answer was simple: " As border guards, we are willing to accomplish any task, though dangerous and silent ..." The gentle and calm smiles on the weather-beaten faces are imprinted with sleepless nights.
On the path to the mountain village in the light sunshine are men and women with on-back papooses of cassava, firewood, forest vegetables. How peaceful the border evening was!
Story and photo: Quynh Anh