The No. 2 lieutenant in the Burmese drug gang believed to be connected to the murder of nine Chinese sailors on the Mekong River on Oct. 5 will be handed over to Thai authorities, the Shan Herald News Agency said on Wednesday.
Thai Police Chief Gen. Priewpan Damaphong said he would fly to Burma to bring Burmese national Aung Myat to Thailand, where nine Thai soldiers have been charged in the murders.
Aung Myat’s wife reportedly said he was forced by Burmese authorities to provide information about the killings after he turned himself in following the arrest of gang leader Naw Kham in Laos on April 25. He has been extradited to China, where he will stand trial on drug and other charges. In earlier reports, Gen. Priewpan’s deputy, Pansiri Prapawat, told reporters he was informed by Chinese investigators that Naw Kham had confessed to the murders.
Aung Myat's wife, Nang Awn, who visited him recently in Kengtung, said he had only made a confession in the killings because he could not bear the pain during the interrogation, according to a family friend.
“He still claims he was not privy to the killings,” said the source. “He has now agreed to become the government’s witness.”
Nine Thai soldiers have been charged in the murders, which took place in the Golden Triangle area where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet. All have reportedly denied the charge.
Aung Myat and other gang members surrendered with their weapons to the Burmese authorities on May 15 in Tachilek District. All of them, except for Aung Myat, were released after a few days of interrogation, said reports.
It was information from a relative of Aung Myat that led to a big drug of 600,000 methamphetamine pills and 120 blocks of heroin being seized at Wan Pong in the Golden Triangle by Thai police on July 2, sources told the news agency.
Aung Myat (aka Zien Hong), 42, a native of Nam Kheum village in Mong Lane tract in Tachilek District, had reportedly served in the Mong Tai Army of the late drug lord Khun Sa.
Naw Kham’s No. 1 lieutenant, Hsang Kham Yao, was reportedly arrested by Thai authorities on April 20 while on his way from Mae Fa Luang to Chiangmai.