HANOI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- People's court in Vietnam's northern Hoa Binh province has sentenced nine among 23 drug smugglers to death on charges of "illegal drug dealing, illegal possession of military weapons and no denunciation of crimes."

At the first instance trial that kicked off on Feb. 27 and concluded Tuesday, the 23 defendants were found guilty of trafficking 1,415 heroin cakes weighing nearly half a ton during 2012 and 2015, reported local Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People's Army) newspaper on Wednesday.

As many as nine of them were sentenced to death, other nine were given life sentences, four received 17-20 years in prison and a woman was given 18 months for failure to denounce the crimes.

The defendants were also accused of illegal possession of military weapons and harboring criminals.

According to Vietnamese law, those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kg of methamphetamine face death penalty.

The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.