I have received a report, informal but well connected, that Shan drug “kingpin” Naw Kham was captured yesterday by Lao security forces in Bokeo province. Naw Kham’s gang was linked to the murder of 12 Chinese crew members on Mekong trading boats in October 2011. Here is a report from the The Irrawaddy at the time:
Beijing has suspended Chinese ships from the Golden Triangle area of the Mekong River following the brutal murder of at least 12 Chinese crewmen on Oct. 5. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has demanded that regional partners Burma, Thailand and Laos take immediate action to find the perpetrators.
Attention has quickly focused on the only suspect in the case, Naw Kham, the notorious leader of a private militia which has for five years terrorized the crews of vessels, almost invariably Chinese cargo ships, sailing on the Mekong in the narrow stretch between Laos and Burma.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday that 12 Chinese crewmen were killed and one remains missing after two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, were attacked and hijacked, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The unmanned ships were discovered floating downriver near the port of Chiang Saen by Thai police on the morning of Oct. 5. Police discovered on board the body of one man who had been shot. Later that day, the bodies of 11 others were recovered from the river.
By one account, Naw Kham’s capture was the top priority of the four-nation Mekong patrol force established after the October murders.[UPDATE: Just found this report from Irrawaddy.]