Five people have been sentenced to death and one person to life in prison in Vietnam for trafficking heroin from neighbouring Laos, state media said.

A court in central Vietnam, Nghe An province, found the six defendants guilty on Friday.

The drug ring made ten trips between the two countries and trafficked 90 Kg of heroin between March and July of last year, according to the state-run newspaper, Thanh Nien.

The leaders of the gang remain at large.

The golden triangle, which includes Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, was formerly one of the world's top producers of illicit opium and heroin.

Afghanistan is now the top producer and accounts for some 90 percent of global illicit opium production, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Strict laws

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 20 Kg of opium, can face the death penalty.

Customs officials and airport security staff in Vietnam are still blaming each other for lapses of oversight in the case, which saw the drugs move through southern Ho Chi Minh City airport apparently undetected.

No major sanctions have been announced for officials involved in the case, media reports said.

Vietnam switched from firing squads to lethal injections in 2011, but has struggled to obtain the necessary chemicals.

Nearly 700 people are currently on death row in the country.

Source: AP