CHIANGRAI TIMES – Jai Norkham, a suspected drug kingpin on Thai authorities’ most-wanted list & the man believed to hold crucial information about the murder of 13 Chinese boat crew members on Oct five last year, has been arrested in Laos.
Norkham, who is an ethnic Shan & alleged to be a former aide of late drug kingpin Khun Sa, ex-leader of the defunct Mong Tai Army rebel group, was captured along with seven other people yesterday, a Thai security source said.
Norkham, his Lao close aide Tao Maitaeng, & six others were detained in the coursework of a raid by Lao authorities in Ban Mom in Tonpheung district of Bokeo province of Laos in the early hours of yesterday, the source said.
Bokeo province is opposite Chiang Rai in Thailand.
The Lao government did not reveal further details about the arrest of Norkham & the seven other suspects, but said they were taken to China immediately after their arrest, the source said.
However, about 44 million baht was later reported to be missing when the funds was handed over to Laos’ Bokeo authorities by the team which made the arrest, the source said.
Since the 13 corpses of Chinese boat crew members were found last October along with an SK47 rifle, and 920,000 methamphetamine pills, Norkham has become the Chinese authorities’ most wanted criminal suspect.
Norkham was wanted not only by Chinese authorities but also their Myanmar counterparts who had knowledge that they was allegedly involved in a drug smuggling gang operating between Thailand and Myanmar.
Nine Thai soldiers have also been charged with murdering and concealing the corpses because police believed they were in some way linked with Norkham’s gang.
Chiang Rai police chief Surachet Thopoonyanont said it is understood there was an agreement between the Lao and Chinese governments regarding the extradition of Norkham.
Pol Col Surachet said Thailand could still ask to later take Norkham from China to face charges in Thailand because a few arrest warrants for him have already been issued here in connection with earlier drug cases.
Prior to the arrest of Norkham, his mistress, whose name was not revealed, was arrested in Ban Luang Saenjai on April 13 in the same Lao district, allegedly in possession of a million methamphetamine pills, 1kg of gold, and 74 million baht funds, another source said.