Monday, July 6, 2009

Wa crashes, militia booms


The growing tensions between the Burma Army and the ceasefire groups since April have practically put a stop to the United Wa State Army’s drug operations along the Thai-Burma border, according to an informed source from eastern Shan State.

“All those previously working with the Wa in Mongton, Monghsat and Tachilek (the three townships facing Maehongson, Chiangmai and Chiangrai) are either closing shop or moving up to the north,” he said.

The resulting vacuum is being filled up by the junta-backed militia forces that are being expanded, trained and armed by the Burma Army to be employed in the event of war with either the UWSA or Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’, or both. The best known among them are Punako and Kya Tey in Monghsat township and Nampong in Tachilek township.

Each of them is said to have one heroin factory in their respective areas assigned by the Burma Army. “Anyone who wants to grow poppies has to get himself/herself registered with the local militia,” he said. “And if any of them needs a starting capital, they will furnish it on condition that the loan will be repaid in kind. The crop is also not to be sold to outsiders except those authorized by the group concerned.”

The “king of kings” among them appears to be Punako, led by Ai Long, his younger brother Kyaderh and their brother-in-law Kya Ngoi. The group first came to the attention of the Thai media when its drug market cum transit point at Maejok, opposite Hmong Kaolang, Mae Fa Luang district, Chiangrai province, was overrun by the SSA ‘South” on 8 February 2002. (Saraburi Coal Mining, a company from Thailand that had won a local contract in Monghsat has been recently assigned by the Burma Army to build a road across the Maejok-Hmong Kaolang border)

Aside from producing and trading in drugs, the group is also running a protection racket for drugs coming from outside its territory. “Not unlike Naw Kham (who is running another racket in the Golden Triangle, between Burma, Laos and Thailand),” he remarked. “Also like Naw Kham, the group is also paying kickbacks to the junta commanders from the local up to the regional command.”

One of the trio, Kya Ngoi, is often seen playing golf with the Military Operations Command (MOC) #14 commander in Monghsat. “While the Burmese commander has only 4 armed bodyguards, he always comes to the golf course with around 10 bodyguards of his own,” he said, “leading to a joke that he must be senior to the MOC commander.”

The Wa, meanwhile, are not completely out of the game. “Their high quality heroin and yaba (methamphetamine) are coming to Thailand via the Mekong and Laos,” he maintained. “With ready cash, you’ll be able to buy any amount you wish to order.”

According to the official media, the regional command in Kengtung, 160 km north of Tachilek, put to the torch drugs worth K 20,177 million ($ 20 million) on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June. Much to the surprise of observers, no flippant statements against the ceasefire groups, all of whom are reportedly involved in the trade were issued by Naypyitaw.

President Barack Obama has called the War on Drugs, waged since 1971, an “utter failure”, according to Newsweek, 1 June 2009 issue.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too