Infamous Burmese Drug Trafficker Reportedly Arrested

By Saw Yan Naing 26 April 2012

One of Burma’s most infamous drug traffickers, Naw Kham, has reportedly been apprehended by the authorities in Laos, just days after being placed on Thailand’s most-wanted list along with an offer of a reward for 2 million baht (US $64,000).

According to a report by Thailand’s Channel 3, the Laotian authorities informed their Thai counterparts of Naw Kham’s arrest on Thursday. The report said that Thai officials have traveled to Laos to confirm the identity of the man in custody.

An official at the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) in northern Thailand declined to confirm the report when contacted by The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

“I’ve heard about it, but it’s not sure,” said the official.

Last Friday, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung announced that the ONCB was offering 12 million baht (US $388,000) in rewards for the capture of 25 of the country’s most-wanted drug dealers, including three from Burma.

The reward on Naw Kham’s head was 2 million baht—double that offered for the arrest of his compatriots.

Naw Kham is known as the leader of a private militia that for the past five years has terrorized the crews of vessels—almost invariably Chinese cargo ships—sailing a narrow stretch of the Mekong River between Laos and Burma.

The ONCB website provides photos of the alleged drug traffickers, as well as the phone number of a 24-hour hotline for those with information on their whereabouts.

One of the other two Burmese suspects on the Thai most-wanted list—Saw Lah Pwe, the leader of a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army—has vehemently denied the charges against him.