Drug Suppression Team (DST)
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
This Page Last Updated    9 February 2011
If you were assigned to or assisted the Drug Suppression Team and would like to contribute any information or photographs, please use the Email Link above.
        To counter a growing drug abuse problem in Vietnam that mushroomed from late 1969 into the Vietnamization phase of the war through the early 1970's, the Army established an amnesty program and broadened their enforcement program.
18th Bde.
89th MP Group

        The 720th Military Police Battalion formed a Drug Suppression Team (DST), that was composed of approximately fifteen members of the Battalion, and specialized in the covert investigation of drug related crimes in the III and IV Corps Tactical Zones. They were operational from 1971 through January 1972.

 19 September 1LT John D. Bradley, III was assigned as OIC with SGT Larry Newton as the ranking Noncommissioned Officer In Charge, (NCOIC). The unit was covertly housed at the Plantation Area located between Long Binh Post and Bien Hoa City. They used the patch, vehicle identification numbers and markings of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment on their M151 Jeeps which were their primary mode of transportation. On occasion they utilized APCs and other vehicles to fit their covert needs.

The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were written by 1LT Bradley.  click on each page >
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

        The SOP defined their mission to identify sources of illicit narcotics trafficking, conduct covert investigations, infiltrate when possible, identify the participants, and develop the necessary evidence to make arrests and seizures.

        The unit also worked extensively with the Joint Narcotics Investigative Division (JNID) . The JNID was made up primarily of Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigators that were working narcotics and related criminal activity.

        If and when the DST developed evidence of criminal activity involving Vietnamese nationals or military, they involved the Vietnamese National Police (Canh Sat) or Vietnamese Military Police (Quan Canh) in their closing phases of the investigation, to execute arrest, and perform search and seizures.

10 September The DST had a very productive and successful record during its existence. In one example, the DST infiltrated the 169th U.S. Army Engineer Battalion at Phoung Lam, when drug trafficking and abuse complaints became excessive. Their base was nicknamed "The Castle In The Sky," and was located about 70 miles north-northwest of Saigon. Prior coordination of the operation was assisted by the commanding officer of the 169tn.


        Team members successfully infiltrated their B Company posing as a security force of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. To do this they used Armored Personnel Carriers (APC's) from Company C of the 720th MP Battalion to perfect their cover.

        They were able to make undercover purchases of marijuana and heroin, identify the main drug dealers within the unit, and successfully conclude their investigation on 10 September 1971 with arrest and seizures of narcotics. A total of 43 suspects were apprehended and their quarters were searched resulting in the following drug and paraphernalia seizures.

Illegal Drugs
Heroin in vials
Marijuana, bulk pounds
Marijuana, pre-rolled cigarettes
LSD, tabs
Assorted pills, bottles
Paraphernalia, Pipes
Apprehensions U.S. Army Personnel
     In addition, a 10 acre marijuana field was also located and subsequently destroyed by the DST.

     The 43 suspects of which 26 were apprehended for marijuana violations, and 17 for heroin violations, were transported to Long Binh Post where local assistance was obtained and formal questioning conducted.

     Of the 17 suspects apprehended for use and/or possession of heroin, 7 were the subject of a positive urinalysis test. The initial military police reports were prepared and distributed within 24 hours subsequent to apprehension, and the evidence was relinquished to the custody of the 8th MP Group Criminal Investigation Division (CID) laboratory for analysis. The results were all positive.

October Another major operation in the Vung Tau area resulted in arrests of numerous Vietnamese Nationals who were operating a black market scheme through the Australian Post Exchange (PX), story follows.
"We Don't Need No Stinking' Ration Card"

     Although the DST was primarily focused on narcotics, the large black market operation which existed in Vung Tau was too good to pass by.

     SGT Gerald Huffner (now deceased) and SP/4 Charles Valrie (A Company), posing as corrupt soldiers who wanted to make a quick buck, infiltrated a Vietnamese organization that specialized in diverting high end rationed Post Exchange (PX) items. The stolen goods were primarily stereo systems, tape decks and speakers. The operation was being conducted at the Australian PX, which was primarily staffed by Vietnamese locals, including associates of the blackmarketing group.

     After befriending the leader of the organization, Huffner and Valrie were told that no ration card was necessary and they were given cash and told to give the sales clerk a pre-determined hand signal to iniate the transaction. The stereo equipment they received was then taken back to the leaders residence, where Huffner and Valrie would exchange the equipment for a cash commission. The diverted items were then sold on the open market by the Vietnamese for a huge profit.

        The illegal purchases continued for more than a month when Huffner and Valrie decided to ask the crime boss to change their commission of cash payments to heroin, to which he agreed. The boss also wanted them to obtain a pallet of U.S. beer and deliver it to his neighborhood along with their next stereo purchases. After substantial red tape through headquarters, the vouchered beer was trucked from Long Binh to Vung Tau and delivered to the previously agreed opon location. One kilo of heroin was given to Huffner and Valrie as payment for their efforts in diverting the stereo equipment andthe beer delivery. As soon as the drug commission transaction was completed, the leader and associates of the organization were arrested and taken away by the Vietnamese National Police who were notified just prior to the arrest for security reason.

        None of the 144 cases of beer were recovered, they were gone within minutes of the delivery. The kilo of heroin was secured and the members of the DST, including myself, left town as soon as possible.

        I never found out what happened to the Vietnamese black marketers, but most likely they bought their way out of any potential problems. I did hear rumors about death threats against Huffner and Valrie from informants of 720th personnel working in Vung Tau. That is the reason we never returned. 1LT John D. Bradley, II, HQ Detachment, DST Supervisor, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, September 1971 to September 1972.

        The team continued to compile an impressive number of successful investigations until it was finally disbanded sometime after January of 1972.

Drug Suppression Team Statistics for Seizures and Arrest from 1 March 1971 to 3 January 1972


95 to 98% purity compared to 5% purity in the US at that time.
3,408 vials value $204,480.00 U.S. / $10,224.00 Vietnamese.
2,276 grams, bulk $240,000.00 U.S. / $12,000.00 Vietnamese.


3,588 cigarettes $13,050 U.S. and $2,000.00 Vietnamese
37.25 Kilos (85 lbs.) $7.350.00 U.S. / $2,200.00 Vietnamese


Total of 149 Persons arrested
56 American Servicemen
81 Vietnamese Nationals
2 Third Country Nationals
10 American Nationals

     Investigations were conducted in the following areas of III and IV Corps during this time period.

Saigon, Phu Lam, Xuan Loc, Bien Hoa, Ho Nia, Can Tho, Vinh Long, Di An, Long Thanh, Tan An, Ben Cat, Lai Khe, Phu Loi, Long Binh, Tay Ninh, Cu Chi, Vung Tau, Trang Bang, Bearcat, and Fire Support Base Mace.

20 December When the 89th MP Group was inactivated in Vietnam, the 720th MP Battalion was then attached subordinate to the 18th MP Brigade, Provost Marshal USARV, who were both located on Long Binh Post.
89th MP Group
 13 August The 720th was deactivated and left Vietnam. Some of the the MP’s that were still assigned to the various drug units asked for reassignment under a Temporary Duty transfer (TDY) to the Joint Narcotics Investigation Division (JNID) for the Saigon Military District, under the jurisdiction of the 8th MP Group CID. When the 720th was deactivated and departed Vietnam the members of the Battalion that were not eligible to return to the US remained assigned to the JNID.
8th CI Group

     The Headquarters for the JNID was the former Senior Noncommissioned Officers (NCO) Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ), a Large French Villa at 150 Yen Do Street in Saigon.

     The unit was one of a kind, answered to very few, and had a Major as their commanding officer, Warrant Officers at the mid Level, and Criminal Investigation Agents (CID) and Military Police Investigators (MPI) doing the investigative work.

    Their primary mission was the major drug distributors who trafficked in bulk quantities of at least 100 pounds of marijuana or 1 Kilo ( 2.2 pounds) of Heroin, and they had plenty of targets to pursue.

Return To Top Of Page
Use Your Browser Button To Return