Police Arrest 12 in Connection with Naypyitaw Arms Seizure
By Htet Naing Zaw 17 October 2017
NAYPYITAW — Police have detained 12 people in connection with the seizure of firearms in the administrative capital Naypyitaw, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“The most important thing is to seize remaining weapons and arrest accomplices,” Deputy Home Affairs Minister Maj-Gen Aung Soe told reporters in Naypyitaw. “So, we are working to make sure they don’t escape.”
According to Maj-Gen Aung Soe, police have so far seized at least 13 guns including eight firearms seized on Tuesday.
On Sunday evening, police detained U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, ACE Company chairman and the son of sports minister under U Thein Sein’s administration U Tint San, and two ACE employees—Ye Min Swe and Zaw Win Htike—at Naypyitaw Airport after discovering 12 WY tablets, 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, two pistols and 72 bullets in U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s backpack.
Another five pistols and 804 bullets were found in his room at Naypyitaw’s ACE Hotel and nine more pistols and 892 bullets were found in the room of one of the ACE employees the same evening.
Police have charged the three men for illegal possession of guns and illicit drugs. Among the nine other detainees are Ko Thiha, the driver of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, ACE general manager U Joseph, and five ACE employees living in Dekkhinathiri Township, according to the home affairs ministry.
On Tuesday morning, police searched the house of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San in Bahan Township’s Golden Valley in Yangon, and seized eight firearms, three bullets, a camouflage jacket bearing his name and the Myanmar national emblem, one long-sleeved black shirt with the Myanmar national emblem and skull and crossed bones emblem, two sniper scopes, a military green compass, a walkie-talkie, a gun sight, and two bullet-proof jackets.
In addition, a magazine bag, two hand bags, a walkie-talkie bag, two WY tablets, a bag with what is believed to be methamphetamine residue and drugs paraphernalia.
Bahan Township police have also opened a case.
“So far we’ve arrested nine both in Yangon and Naypyitaw. Those who were arrested in Naypyitaw will be brought to trial there, and those arrested in Yangon will be brought to trial in Yangon,” said chief of Naypyitaw Police Force Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung.
“We’ve arrested the employees of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San. If they have nothing to do with [the case], we will release them. It depends on their testimonies,” he added.
U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San and his two staff members are under detention in Naypyitaw, said police Lt-Col Hla Yi, chief of Dekkhinathiri District Police Force.
“We are still investigating them, and police investigations are still ongoing,” he said.
Following the arrest, police froze some of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s bank accounts and planned to search places he has lived or stayed, according to police.
On Monday, police searched the seven-story ACE Company building in Yangon’s Thaketa Township and put up a police cordon around the building, as they were only able to search two floors, and have yet to search the remaining floors.
Former sports minister U Tint San, the father of U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San is scheduled to arrive back in Myanmar on Wednesday from a trip to China.
According to sources close to ACE Hotel, U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San had been planning to establish a security company and was amassing capital.
In Myanmar, no organization except the Tatmadaw has authority to legally import firearms, a retired police officer in Yangon told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.
Even the police force has to seek approval of the President’s Office to import anti-riot weapons, and authorities do not issue gun licenses to civilians, he said.
“There is a gun permit but it is not a given license. And such a permit is normally given to retired military officers under certain conditions, but not to civilians. And that permit has to be approved by the home affairs minister,” he said.
According to the retired police officer, the government at present only allows security service providers which hire and train retired service personnel of the military and police as security guards for companies, hotels and so on. But it has not permitted security companies with armed security services.