The Assasination of Akhas
The following article is from the Bangkok Post of Thailand and also listed in the "Media" section.
Summary execution has long been a method of enforcing the drug war against hill tribe people and others, though the imbalance of its use against hilltribe people is noted.
Executions without trial are illegal in international law, something Thai authorities have not learned. All Drug War in Thailand is pushed and funded by US policy with no excuse for not knowing how it will be twisted and used to further ethnic agendas by the Thai police and Army.
The Assasination of Akhas
THE GANG OF FOUR
"There are many new names in drug trafficking," an ONCB official told Perspective this week. Big names in drugs have been given wide publicity. The public know of Khun Sa (Chang Chi Fu), Khun Saeng (Chang Ping Yun), Lao Tai (Yang Wan Hsun) and Wei Sia Kang (Prasith Cheewinnitipanya). They are known as the Gang of Four commanding the drug kingdom in the Golden Triangle which straddles parts of Burma, Laos and Thailand.
Advantage drug lords
Bangkok Post, Sunday, March 4, 2001
Despite concerted efforts to beat them back, powerful
drug producers and dealers operating in and around the north of
Thailand keep on coming
Saengsanit Chaisri was crossing the border from Burma across the Mae
Sai river in Chiang Rai late Monday morning when a gunshot rang out.
On that hot morning, people saw Saengsanit, also known as Kamnan
Daeng, fall to the ground, his head and body bloodied.
Witnessess took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on
arrival. A single bullet in the head had killed him.
The killing was one of a number of crimes reported in the newspapers
that day. But Kamnan Daeng's death foretold a more sinister story. He
is known among the locals as a wealthy businessman with a construction
firm and a sand-dredging business. The men on the street found it easy
to believe that his murder came about due to a business conflict.
But in the inner circles of business, the state and security, Kamnan
Daeng's close ties with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) pointed to
drug trafficking, another highly probable cause of death.
Intelligence gatherers at the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) know quite a lot about Kamnan Daeng. However, searches at the kamnan's house in recent weeks yielded nothing to prove his links to the drug trade.
THE GANG OF FOUR
"There are many new names in drug trafficking," an ONCB official told
Perspective this week. Big names in drugs have been given wide
publicity. The public know of Khun Sa (Chang Chi Fu), Khun Saeng (Chang Ping Yun), Lao Tai (Yang Wan Hsun) and Wei Sia Kang (Prasith Cheewinnitipanya). They are known as the Gang of Four commanding the drug kingdom in the Golden Triangle which straddles parts of Burma, Laos and Thailand.
However, only some narcotic suppression officials and a few drug
suppression police officers know the simple Thai monikers of Sakchai (or Preecha), Nikhom, Montri, Phetchdam and Somchart (surnames withheld) in relation to the world of illicit drugs.
These officials, however, know these names identify key workers for
the various drug lords, responsible for the distribution of opium,
heroin and amphetamines from Burma to Thailand, and onwards to Europe
For instance, they know that aside from drug trafficking, Montri,
Phetchdam, Sakchai, Somchart and Nikhom are now co-investors with the
UWSA in drug production.
END OF THE ROAD FOR MA TA
Sakchai was killed in a gunbattle with the police in January when his
drug caravan was stopped by a narcotics suppression police unit
outside Chiang Rai. Newspapers used his more familiar I-gor tribal
name, Ma Ta, in their reports.
After the death of Ma Ta, it was revealed that he was not only a drug
trafficker but also a co-investor with the Wa in producing amphetamine
tablets. Ma Ta had two Thai ID cards identifying him as Sakchai
Suwanpheng and Preecha Asawasukhon. He sold drugs around the Burmese
border areas as well as in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.
His front businesses in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district included a
massage parlour, a karaoke lounge and some foodshops. Ma Ta is
believed to have been one of several key traffickers for the Gang of
Four. "The Gang of Four trusted him so much they gave him 50 million
baht's worth of credit a year to do drug business contracts," says a
WANTED FOR HEROIN TRAFFICKING
After Ma Ta was killed, the Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau begun
to hunt for a Thai man, a major amphetamine producer with close ties
to the Wa. He is Montri (last name withheld), better known by his
Chinese identity of Sa Jeh.
Official reports obtained by Perspectivereveal that Montri is wanted
for heroin and amphetamine production and trafficking. He brought in
about eight expert chemists from China to work at his factories in
Working from his base in Chiang Rai, Montri commands his heroin and
amphetamine factories located in Kentung's Baan La near the
Burmese-Chinese border. His factories are supplied with chemical and
production materials by the Wa. The Montri gang produces about five
million amphetamine tablets a month, the reports say.
SPEED UNDER ROCKS
The Montri gang also sells their own products or uses middlemen and
the marketing networks of other gangs. A major seller for Montri is
known to be under the command of a kamnan (sub-district head), the
official reports say.
As this kamnan (name withheld) is very influential in Chiang Rai's
border area, he brings in the drug through the provincial border,
particularly via the Burmese town of Thachilek, into Mae Sai.
On one occasion last year, police seized Montri's drugs while they
were being trucked in through this border pass. Police found
amphetamine tablets hidden under a pile of construction rocks. "A
businessman ordered construction materials from Thachilek for a
project in Mae Sai district," said a police source. He said the police
didn't have enough evidence to prosecute the businessman or truck
company. However, the kamnan was hit by a sharpshooter recently, on
his way back to Chiang Rai from a business trip in Burma.
MORE ABOUT MONTRI
Apart from the road route through Mae Sai, police investigators
believe that the Montri group has also been smuggling drugs into
Thailand through the quiet border pass of Baan Tha Pang Haa, some
distance away from the busy Mae Sai district.
When the drugs arrive on Thai soil, the Montri gang distributes them
into the market using both the dead kamnan's gang and other drug
The largest trafficking gang next to that of the kamnan is under the
command of Montri's own son, identified by the police as Nikhom (last
Nikhom lives in the remote village of Baan Huey Rai in Chiang Rai's
Mae Sai district. When the supplies arrive, Nikhom's men distribute
the drugs via agents, mostly tribal people in the districts of Mae
Sai, Mae Fah Laung, Mae Chan, Chiang Saen and Mae Saroey.
A ranking narcotics suppression source told Perspective that he was
"shocked to discover from various intelligence reports that the Nikhom
gang has up to 3,000 families in various districts under its control,
retailing amphetamines and heroin."It is estimated that each family
receives from 300 to 1,000 amphetamine tablets each month.
The combined earnings for the families is estimated at 10 million baht
A MILLION A WEEK
From a police file of drug dealers, Perspectivefound the name of
Phetchdam (last name withheld), who is said to live in Baan Pa Khaw,
Ma Kham subdistrict of Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district.
A police informer says Phetchdam is proud to be known as a key
canvasser for a known politician, and claims good ties with various
politicians and MPs outside Chiang Rai.
True or not, police found evidence to link Phetchdam with top soldiers
of the Muang Tai Army, formerly under the command of Khun Sa.
"We have documentary evidence confirming that Phetchdam is a volunteer
soldier in a Burmese government army unit. His Burmese name is Yi Seh
and was posted opposite the Thai border at Baan Therd Thai, in Mae
Chan," said a police officer.
Police say that Phetchdam distributes Montri's drugs in villages
around Baan Therd Thai. The report says, "Without having any
identifiable occupation or business, Phetchdam has deposited up to one
million baht a week in a local commercial bank."
The Montri gang also supplies heroin and amphetamines to one other
kamnan known as Chart, in Mae Fah Laung district. "Chart uses his
people to retail amphetamines around Mae Fah Luang district," said
another police source. The source also said that aside from these
producers and traffickers, other citizens of the drug world live
comfortable lives on the Thai-Burmese border as well as in Thai towns.
"We want them arrested," says a top police officer.
In an informal talk, the officer showed Perspective several sheets of
official lists of suspected drug traffickers, on which they are
gathering evidence enough to issue arrest warrants.
"These people will not be able to escape the law all their lives," the
officer said. (See box one) This and other secret documents indicate
that the business of illicit drugs will not be eradicated any time
The past decades have seen government forces arresting, jailing, and
executing major drug traffickers and drug lords. Big names disappear
or are forced out of the business, but only for a while. Sooner or
later, new names emerge.
Forty years ago, on 1 July 1958, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, prime
minister and coup leader, ordered the complete eraedication of opium
cultivation, trading and consumption _which was then legal.
That morning, opium and paraphernalia were publicly burned at Sanam
Luang in Bangkok to symbolise the end of narcotics in the country.
For a short period, the country seemed to be free of opium-related
activities. But in 1982, heroin No.5 entered through the underground
market. A Thai-Chinese man, Liang Hor sae Lao, was publicly executed,
again at Sanam Luang, for producing and trafficking heroin. At that
time, no one had heard of Khun Sa or any of the now popular opium drug
names. They had yet to come into the business.
The following years saw the arrival of purer grades of heroin, from
heroin No.4, up to heroin No.1, the purest and most expensive.
In 1989, ya baa (amphetamine) made its first recorded appearances in
the market. Narcotic suppression forces fought hard against ya baa,
but found themselves unable to win.
According to a narcotics suppression study, about 80,000 people have
been jailed on drug abuse charges. Up to 160,000 drug suspects were
tried last year. (See table 1) Some 47 percent of total court trials
involved illegal drug cases and 10 percent of robbery cases were also
related to narcotics.
"This means that more than 50 percent of criminal cases are
drug-related. There aren't enough jails to put them all in," says an
ONCB statistics show that ya baa cases are increasing every year. In
1990, there were 1,297 cases. The next year, there were 1,775 cases.
By 1994 there were 3,973 cases. Statistics released by the Narcotics
Suppression Bureau show that last year, there were 6,607 amphetamine
arrests. As many as 73.4 million tablets were seized by police last
year. Five years ago, police seized about 9 million tablets in raids
across the country. (See table 2) But narcotics suppression authorities
say the seizure is perhaps only 20 percent of total amphetamine
production which is still spreading and seeping deeper into society.
Drug addiction has become such a concern that countries are fighting
together. Thailand and the US launched a major drug suppression
operation in early 1994 under the code name Tiger Trap.
As a result, a Thai and an American were named among 20 of the most
wanted drug traffickers, responsible for smuggling narcotics into the
US via Thailand and Hong Kong between 1984 and 1989. Today, the
operation has put 15 of them behind bars (See box two).
But new names are emerging. A senior officer at the Narcotics
Suppression Bureau says: "The harder we fight, the more they grow. It
is such an easy business, and there are such huge profits."An
amphetamine tablet costs less than 50 satang to produce. Its wholesale
price at factories in Burma is between 8 and 12 baht. At the
Thai-Burmese border, the price is between 13 and 15 baht.
Inside Thailand, police say, the tablets sell wholesale for from 30 to
60 baht, and retail for as much as 100 baht and sometimes more.
"In some areas like Bangkok, one tablet can sell for up to 200 baht,"
the police source says.
With profit margins like that, no wonder more drug makers seem to be
entering the business every day. Names such as Chang Chi Fu, Chang
Ping Yan, Yang Wan Hsuan, Lio Szo Po, Yang Kuo Po and Pu Kung are
already well-known. But the list is destined to get much longer.