CHIANGRAI TIMES – Jai Norkham, a suspected ethnic Shan drug kingpin with alleged involvement in the killing of 13 Chinese shipping crewmen last year on the Mekong River in Chiang Rai, was arrested in the Lao PDR last week but may not be extradited to face drug charges in Thailand, according to Thailand’s Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).
After confirmation by Lao PDR authorities about the arrest of Mr Norkham, believed to be an aide of the late so-called Opium King Khun Sa, the deputy secretary-general of the ONCB, Sukhum Opasniputh, disclosed on Sunday that the drug suspect was in detention in the Lao capital of Vientiane.
As a consequence, the deputy secretary-general admitted that finally the Shan drug suspect might not be taken to face drug charges in Thailand.
Mr Sukhum believed that Mr Norkham, who was also on China’s most wanted list, would soon be extradited to China to face prosecution for involvement in the killing of 13 Chinese boat crew members on five Oct 2011 on the Mekong River in Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district, as well as for other cases related to robberies of shipping boats and the murder of boat crewmen along the Mekong River connecting China, Myanmar, the Lao PDR and Thailand.
The arrest of Mr Norkham would benefit cargo transportation routes along the Mekong River and be a significant blow to a major drug syndicate.
Mr Norkham was suspected by Thai authorities after being implicated by detained drug ring members that he was involved with other drug cases.
Currently, a quantity of Norkham’s aides have begun turning themselves in to the police, according to Mr Sukhum -MCOT online news