Thursday, August 23, 2012

Drug gang leader questioned by Burmese police

Thursday, 23 August 2012 15:33 Mizzima News

Burmese police traveled to Yunnan Province in China to interrogate a Burmese national who is suspected in the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year, according to domestic media.

Naw Kham, the head of an armed drug gang believed to be associated with bandits who killed the Chinese sailors on Oct. 5 last year, was arrested on April 25 in Laos and later extradited to China on May 10 for investigation and trial.

Drug gang suspect Naw Kham, a Burmese national, in the custody of Laotian police before being handed over to China, shown in this screenshot from Chinese television.

The case has acted as a catalyst for greater cooperation to ensure the security of travel on the Mekong River, with officials from China, Thailand, Laos and Burma working closely to establish joint patrols on the river.

The river, particularly in the Golden Triangle area bordering Burma, Thailand and Laos, is a major location for transnational crime and drug smuggling, said a Burmese police official.

Chinese police said a joint police investigation in China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand has revealed evidence indicating that Naw Kham, some core members of the gang, and a small number of Thai soldiers planned and executed the murders.

In a July visit to Burma, Chinese Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu asked Burmese authorities to cooperate with Chinese police to bring the suspects to trial.

The ministry said Naw Kham's armed gang is believed to be behind 28 robberies and gun-related crimes directed at Chinese vessels and citizens since 2008. The crimes resulted in 16 deaths and three injuries.

Senior cabinet members from the four countries met in Beijing on Oct. 31 last year and agreed to crack down on cross-border crime and secure transportation along the Mekong River.

Under the framework of the "Law Enforcement Cooperation along the Mekong River Mechanism," the four countries agreed to cooperate in intelligence exchanges, patrolling and law enforcement, as well as establish channels for handling incidents that disrupt public order, combating transnational crime and dealing with emergency events.

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