Thursday, May 14, 2009

Detained drug suspects released after paying millions - Naw Kham

By Hseng Khio Fah

Shanland - The chase launched on “Druglord” Naw Kham by the Burma Army following the shootings at a Chinese cargo ship on the Mekong on 18 February had resulted in the massive arrest of suspects including businessmen, but most of them were released after paying millions, according to reliable sources.

Over 20 people suspected of connection with Naw Kham who has been active in the Golden Triangle area, where Burma’s Shan State, Laos and Thailand meet, were detained by the Burma Army during the operation.

Among these were Ko Thiha, from Wan Hwe Waw Khoke, Kengphawng village tract, and Ko Maung Tint from Quarter #3 of Namkhet, Kengtung township, eastern Shan State.

Maung Tint was a former soldier in the Burma Army’s signal battalion. He has been reportedly dealing in drugs and arms together with Naw Kham with the help of local authorities in Tachilek since his retirement.

Naw Kham

“Almost all of the Naw Kham’s dealers know about of the relationship between the junta authorities and Naw Kham,” said a businessman who was also involved in the drug trade. “The area commanders and local authorities are receiving kickbacks from Naw Kham.”

Maung Tint was reported to have disclosed in detail of Naw Kham’s relationships with the authorities to the police during the interrogations.

Their disclosures had led to the police releasing them after paying Kyat 20 million (US$ 20,000) each, said the source.

To date, even though Naw Kham has been under “hot pursuit” by the Burmese forces since 18 February, he still remains free. In addition, his cross border drug dealings have also recovered.

Naw Kham, a former officer in the late Khun Sa’s Mong Tai Army (MTA), surrendered with his boss to become a militia leader in Tachilek in 1996. Ten years later, he went underground, following a raid that resulted in seizure of a large amount of arms and drugs.

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