Close up of the land that over 70 gangsters in Phu Quoc are fighting for

In a shocking incident that sent shockwaves through the public, 2 people have died, 6 have been injured, and 70 have been sentenced in a highly publicized case in Phu Quoc over a dispute for a coveted piece of land on the "Pearl Island".


A disputed land caused more than 70 gangsters in Phu Quoc to fight, resulting in 2 deaths, 6 injuries, and 70 people being sentenced to prison.

On February 4, after 4 days of trial, the Kiên Giang Provincial Court sentenced 70 defendants, we returned to the disputed land and the scene of the gangland shootout that resulted in 2 deaths and 6 injuries in Phu Quoc City, Kiên Giang Province, in October 2022.

It looks calm and empty, but at the time of the fatal shooting, it was worth hundreds of billions of dong.

Casting our eyes on the land, it looked calm and empty, hidden deep in the winding and twisting roads of Ben Tram Hamlet, Cua Duong Commune, Phu Quoc City.

Some places in the land have been divided, but have no occupants.

On this 2.8-hectare land, there are a few houses with people living in them, while the rest is empty land with some divided parts.

Next to it is the unfinished villa of prisoner Nguyen Van Truong, who was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison for “Disturbing public order” and “Illegally possessing military weapons”; he was also one of the 8 victims in the land dispute shooting mentioned above.

It is a piece of land that was worth only 300 million dong in 2001, but has been sold for up to 10 billion dong by 2021.

A nearby resident said that this villa has been abandoned since the incident occurred. In addition to the 2 people killed, 4 severely injured individuals, Truong and the remaining brothers were also arrested one by one.

At this land, we met Mr. Khuc Van Doai, who is directly involved in the 2.8-hectare land that was fought over by gangsters in Phu Quoc more than 15 months ago.

The location where the subjects pursued, shot, and killed each other.

We were given a look at 2 hand-written land use transfer contracts, with the red dots indicating the disputed land. Mr. Doai expressed his frustration, saying, “I bought this 2.8-hectare land from Mr. Nguyễn Văn Khiếu since 2001 for only 300 million dong. At that time, this area was all dense forests and trails. After buying the land, I negotiated with many other landowners to open a road for cars to enter the land.”

Twenty years later, Phu Quoc experienced many land fever periods and there were people willing to buy this land for 10 billion dong; that’s when many complicated problems arose,” Mr. Doai said.

The place where the subjects surrounded the land with dozens of vehicles, leading to clashes and gunshots.

According to Mr. Doai, because the land buyer needed the direct signature of the former owner to be eligible to register the land use rights, he asked Mr. Khiếu to sign the land purchase paper for Mr. Ph.B.V.

“Mr. Khiếu saw that I was selling this land at a price and knew that I needed his signature, so he forced me to pay 1.5 billion dong before he agreed to sign. In a forced situation, I agreed to pay Mr. Khiếu over 1 billion dong. After signing and receiving full payment, Mr. Khiếu repeatedly sought me out to demand more money. However, what I didn’t expect was that he would allow people to compete for the land that he had sold to me over 20 years ago,” Mr. Doai revealed.

The unfinished house of Nguyen Van Truong at the scene of the shootout has been abandoned since the incident occurred.

According to the case file, starting from being asked to measure the disputed land mentioned above, in June 2022, Pham Anh Hieu contacted Nguyen Van Thai (who is a gangster boss in Phu Quoc) for assistance.

After “finalizing the deal” to carry out land work for 4 billion dong, realizing that his group would have difficulty completing the task that Hieu asked for, Thai mobilized more gangs specializing in protecting disputed land in Phu Quoc to participate in the mission.

On October 27, 2022, Thai and more than 50 gangsters traveled in multiple cars, carrying knives, batons, and 3 guns to the disputed land, resulting in a clash. At this time, Doan Thien Long, who was with Thai’s group, fired 3 shots at the opposing group, causing 2 deaths and 6 injuries.

The incident shocked the public opinion locally as well as nationwide at that time. The Ministry of Public Security had to send forces to coordinate with the Kiên Giang Provincial Police and the Phu Quoc City Police to solve the case. Many suspects were arrested after the crime was committed, and they turned themselves in one by one.

The Kiên Giang Provincial People’s Procuracy indicted 50 defendants on the charge of “Murder,” 13 defendants on the charge of “Disturbing public order,” 6 defendants on the charge of “Concealing crimes,” and 1 defendant on the charge of “Illegally possessing military weapons.”

During the trial, defendant Thai affirmed that he signed a contract with Hieu to carry out the “land work” for 4 billion dong. However, Hieu claimed that it was only done based on “mutual affection.”

Hieu’s defense lawyer also raised the issue that the value of the land was only 11 billion dong, and the person who was asked to measure the land was only entitled to half of the land’s value, which was about 5.5 billion dong. However, paying 4 billion dong to the person who measured the land was unreasonable.

However, through our research, at the time the fatal shooting occurred, this land was worth about 3 billion dong/1,000m2, which means the total value of the land was nearly 90 billion dong. That is the main reason why the seniors of many gangs in Phu Quoc had to lead their younger members to risk their lives and take the lives of others, resulting in unforeseen consequences.

70 gangsters sentenced

On January 31, the Panel of Judges at the Kiên Giang Provincial Court sentenced defendant Đoàn Thiên Long – the person who directly fired 3 shots at the opposing group, causing 2 deaths and 6 injuries – to life imprisonment for the crime of “Murder” and 12 years in prison for the crime of “Illegally possessing, transporting, using military weapons,” with a total sentence of life imprisonment.

With the same sentence, Nguyen Van Thai (also known as Thai Bus, 36 years old) and Bui Duc Ngoc (32 years old) were identified as the ringleaders who organized the murder of multiple people. Defendant Pham Anh Hieu (34 years old) was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime of “Murder”.

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