(Mizzima) – A Shan drug lord believed to be involved in the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year has been arrested in Laos and sent to China, according to Thai security forces.
Jai Norkham, a suspected drug dealer on the Thai authorities' most-wanted list, was arrested with six associates in Laos in Ban Mom in Tonpheung District in Bokeo Province early on Thursday, according to an article in The Bangkok Post on Friday. The area is opposite Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Jai Norkham was believed to be involved in the death of 13 Chinese boat crew members on October 5 last year, which prompted the creation of a joint patrol operation involving Burma, China, Laos and Thailand.
A former aide of the late drug lord Khun Sa, who led the defunct Mong Tai Army rebel group, Norkham for years has operated with impunity in an area including Burma, Thailand and Laos near the Golden Triangle.
The Lao government told Thai authorities that he was taken immediately to China following the arrest.
Thai Pol Col Surachet told the newspaper that Thailand could still seek his extradition, because of a number of arrest warrants for him issued here in connection with previous drug cases.
An unidentified source told reporters that a woman identified as Norkham’s mistress, who was not named, was arrested in Ban Luang Saenjai on April 13 in the same Laotian District. She allegedly was in possession of one million methamphetamine pills, 1kg of gold, and 74 million baht cash.
However, the source added that about 44 million baht was later reported to be missing when the money was handed over to Laos' Bokeo authorities by the team which made the arrest.
Norkham had become the Chinese authorities' most wanted criminal suspect, following the murders last year.
Norkham was also wanted by Burmese authorities for involvement in a drug gang that smuggled drugs between Burma and Thailand. Nine Thai soldiers have also been charged with murdering and concealing the Chinese corpses because police believed they were in some way linked with Norkham's gang, the article said.