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Police Issue Arrest Warrants for Mekong Murders



13 Chinese sailors were gunned down in Chiangrai last year


Chiangrai Times – ChiangRai Royal Thai Police have issued arrest warrants for nine soldiers in connection with the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year.

The sailors were on two cargo ships when armed men attacked them on Oct. 5 in an area of the Mekong River in the Golden Triangle, which is notorious for smuggling and drug running.

China’s Deputy Minister of Public Security Truong Tan Phong (left) and Thai Deputy Police Chief General Pansiri Prapawat

General Pansiri Prapawat, Thailand’s deputy police chief said a Thai man, Olarn Sompongphan, alias Chamras, is also wanted and helped plan the attack on two Chinese boats. Olarn is also wanted for the murder of former deputy interior minister and former Chaiyaphum MP Santi Chaiwirattana in Chiang Rai last year, police said. He is believed to have fled to an area under the control of Burma’s Wa ethnic group.

General Pansiri said Thai fugitive Olarn Sompongphan, alias Chamras, had worked with the gang to attack the two Chinese boats.

In response to the murders, China, Thailand, Burma and Laos have launched joint law enforcement efforts to protect cargo ships and crack down on drug trafficking along Mekong River. A notorious drug lord Naw Kham was arrested in Laos in April and later extradited to China on suspicion of being linked to the murders. Naw Kham was No. 1 on China’s most wanted list.

Earlier this week three men were shot and killed onboard a long-tailed speedboat on the Mekong River in the same general area of the Chinese murders, in another incident that had the markings of drug-gang violence.

The dead were believed to be Burmese nationals who were travelling about 10 kilometres north of the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma meet. It is still unclear who attacked the boat.

Chinese News the Global Times said the Golden Triangle, one of Asia’s two major opium-producing areas, is still the most harmful source of drugs in China. The other is called the Crescent Triangle covering Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Chinese police seized 5.1 tonnes of heroin and 7.9 tonnes of methamphetamine produced in, and smuggled from, the region last year, which made up 72 per cent and 55 per cent of the total nationwide seizures of heroin and methamphetamine, respectively, up 55 per cent and 62 per cent year-on-year, according to the report.


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