A gang leader suspected of masterminding the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year has been flown from Laos to Beijing for questioning, an official said Friday.
The sailors died last October in a raid on two Chinese cargo boats on the Mekong, an attack thought to have been carried out by a notorious gang in the “Golden Triangle” area known for drug smuggling.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said the suspect, Nor Kham, was arrested on April 25 and arrived in Beijing on Thursday, describing him as a “drug lord”. His gang is from Shan state in northern Myanmar.
An official reached by telephone at China’s Ministry of Public Security confirmed Nor had arrived in Beijing for questioning.
“Yes, Nor Kham was transferred to Chinese police,” said the official, who declined to give her name.
China reacted angrily to last year’s attack, summoning diplomatic envoys from Thailand, Laos and Myanmar and asking authorities to speed up investigations into the incident.
China and its Southeast Asian neighbors have since begun operating armed patrols to protect ships navigating the Mekong River, a key waterway that flows through Yunnan province in China’s southwest and into Southeast Asia.
China had worked with authorities in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to bust the drug gang that Nor ran, Xinhua quoted the head of the ministry’s narcotics department as saying.
The gang had more than 100 members and was suspected of committing kidnap, murder, looting and other crimes along the Mekong River, as well as drugs smuggling, Xinhua said.