January 24, 2005
High-Ranking Leaders Of Southeast Asia's
Largest Narcotics Trafficking Organization Indicted By A Federal Grand Jury In Brooklyn, New York
The Defendants’ United Wa State Army Controls Large Sections of Eastern Burma
SAC Placido addresses NY Press wiith USA Mauskopf and Lt. General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit Royal Thai Police
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and ANTHONY P. PLACIDO, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Division, today announced the unsealing of an indictment against eight high-ranking leaders of the United Wa State Army (“UWSA”) in Eastern Burma on heroin and methamphetamine trafficking charges. The UWSA is one of the largest heroin producing and trafficking organization in the world and was responsible for the production of more than 180 metric tons of opium in 2004. Both the UWSA and one of the charged defendants, WEI HSUEH KANG, have been designated “Drug Kingpins” by the United States government.
Today’s indictment is
the product of a long-term initiative led by the Drug Enforcement Administration,
with the cooperation of several
branches of the Royal Thai Police,
Including the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, the Office of Narcotics Control Board and the Anti-Money Laundering Office. Code-named “Operation Warlord,” the initiative focused on stemming the flow of illegal drugs at their source, and is the latest chapter in a long history of collaboration between the DEA and other law enforcement agencies to combat heroin trafficking in Southeast Asia.
“Operation Warlord” targeted senior members of the UWSA, who control large segments of Eastern Burma, in the heart of the infamous “Golden Triangle” of heroin production. The UWSA, with approximately 16,000 armed forces under its control, purports to be an independence movement seeking the creation of an ethnic Wa state. In fact, as today’s indictment alleges, the UWSA has operated for decades as a powerful criminal syndicate and world-wide narcotics trafficking organization. According to the indictment unsealed today, the UWSA and the named defendants have engaged in the collection, transport, and taxing of opium in the territories under their control; the manufacture and distribution of heroin and methamphetamine to the United States and throughout the world; and the laundering of narcotics proceeds through seemingly legitimate businesses.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the UWSA, under the defendants’ control, became one of the largest heroin producing and trafficking group in the world. DEA reporting indicates that since 1985, the defendants named in this indictment have imported more than a ton of heroin, with a retail (street) value of one billion dollars, into the United States alone, and vast amounts throughout the world. More recently, the defendants and UWSA began production of methamphetamine for export to the United States and elsewhere. To date, approximately 12,000 methamphetamine tablets, labeled with the UWSA logo, have been seized by the DEA at mail facilities located within the United States.
The indictment alleges that through the UWSA, the defendants control all decision making relative to the cultivation, collection and transportation of opium in the territory under UWSA control. This includes the taxing of narcotics shipments and drug refineries, and the collection of lucrative narcotics proceeds. In return, the defendants and the UWSA provide security for heroin and methamphetamine laboratories in Wa territory, as well as for drug caravans smuggling heroin and methamphetamine from Eastern Burma to Thailand, China, and Laos where independent brokers smuggle shipments to international distribution organizations in Asia, Europe and the United States.
According to UWSA documents obtained by the DEA, each of the defendants holds a high level leadership position in the UWSA. WEI HSUEH KANG, is currently a special advisor to UWSA’s Central Committee, previously served as commander of UWSA’s Division 171, and was one of the first individuals designated by the United States in June 2000 as a “Drug Kingpin” pursuant to the 1999 Foreign Narcotics Designation Kingpin Act. (UWSA, as an organization, was designated a “Drug Kingpin” in 2003) .
In addition to the charges filed against him today, WEI KANG also faces charges stemming from an indictment filed in 1993 in the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to distribute and import heroin into the United States. The U.S. State Department is currently offering a $2 million reward for information leading to WEI KANG’s capture.
WEI HSUEH LUNG has served as the UWSA Minister of Trade and Finance and as a member of the UWSA’s Central Committee. WEI HSUEH YING has served as the commander of military forces in the UWSA’s Southern Military Region and is in charge of trade in the UWSA’s Division 171. PAO YU HSIANG is the Commander-in-Chief of the UWSA and serves as a member of the UWSA’s Central Committee and Politburo. PAO YU YI is a member of the UWSA’s Central Committee and is the Political Commissar of UWSA’s Southern Military Region. PAO YU HUA has controlled UWSA military forces in the Mong Hpen region and has served as commander of a UWSA security detachment in Mong Mao area. PAO YU LIANG is a member of the UWSA’s Central Committee and has served as the governor and commander of UWSA forces in the Mong Mao area. PAO HUA CHIANG has served as a UWSA trade and finance officer. The WEI’S are brothers, as are the PAOS, with the exception of PAO HUA CHIANG.
If convicted, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years, and a maximum of life imprisonment, and a $4,000,000 fine. In addition, the indictment seeks a forfeiture money judgement against all defendants totalling $103 million, for which the defendants are jointly and severally liable. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of directly traceable assets of the defendants, including all assets of the Hong Pang Group, a holding company, and affiliated companies in the jewelry, communications, agriculture and construction businesses, all of which represent the proceeds of the defendants’ narcotics trafficking activities. These companies are located or doing business in Thailand, Burma, Hong Kong, China and elsewhere, and are managed, operated, financed and controlled by the defendants.
“We are committed to stopping the flow of dangerous narcotics
into our communities by going straight to the source and putting international
drug traffickers out of business,” stated United States Attorney
MAUSKOPF. “Together with our global network of
law enforcement partners, we will continue to mobilize all of our resources against those who would seek to poison our society for profit.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge
PLACIDO stated, “Transnational drug
represents a grave threat to the safety and security of all Americans. The illegal enterprise
operated by the UWSA fosters drug addiction, crime, violence and terrible social damage here in the U.S. The enormous profits derived from the sale of these illegal drugs also undermine respect
for the rule of law and destabilize government institutions around the globe. We are committed to work with our international partners to disrupt and dismantle these dangerous criminal syndicates.”
Ms. MAUSKOPF and Mr. PLACIDO thanked Special Agents of the Drug
Enforcement Administration assigned to the following offices: the New York Field Division; the Bangkok Country Office; The Chiang Mai, Thailand Resident Office; The Rangoon, Burma Country Office; the Hong Kong Country Office and the Chicago Field Division. In addition, Ms. MAUSKOPF and Mr. PLACIDO commended the U.S. Department of State and the Royal Thai Police for their outstanding work in this case, and emphasized that the investigation is continuing.
The case has been assigned to United States District Court Chief Judge
Edward R. Korman. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Ramos and Claire S. Kedeshian.
Name: WEI HSUEH KANG (also known as Somboon Kadumporn)
Name: WEI HSUEH
Name: WEI HSUEH YING
Name: PAO YU HSIANG (also known as Ta Pang)
Name: PAO HUA CHIANG (also known as Ta Kat)
Name: PAO YU YI (also known as Ta Rang)
Name: PAO YU LIANG
Name: PAO YU HUA