Thai drug organization blamed for killing 13 crew members on Chinese cargo ships

October 11th, 2011 - 3:52 am ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — A Thai drug trafficking organization is being been blamed for attacking two Chinese cargo ships last week and killing the 13 Chinese crew members on board, officials said on Monday.

The Hua Ping and the Yu Xing 8 Hao, two Chinese-flagged cargo ships, were hijacked and ransacked on Wednesday in the Mekong River’s Golden Triangle, which is an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, China and Burma (Myanmar) come together. It happened about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) north of the Chiang Saen district in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai.

Pa Muang Task Force commander Major General Prakarn Chonlayuth said 40-year-old drug kingpin Nor Kham, who is wanted in both Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), is believed be the main suspect behind the slaying of the Chinese crew members, the Bangkok Post reported.

According to Chonlayuth and local authorities, around 400 men are working under Nor Kham and the criminal group has been known to hijack ships plying the river and demand protection money. The gang members commonly kill the crew members and take over the ship if the money is not paid.

During Wednesday’s incident, Pa Muang Task Force arrived at the scene and fought off the hijacking traffickers. One of the gang members was killed while on the Yu Xing 8 Hao, but the others were able to flee. In addition, soldiers seized 520,000 methamphetamine pills from the Hua Ping and another 400,000 from the Yu Xing 8 Hao.

The bodies of several Chinese crew members were found on Friday and Saturday floating on the Mekong River. They were handcuffed behind their backs and most of them were thought to have been blindfolded as well.

Chiang Saen Police Chief Colonel Popkorn Khuncharoensuk confirmed that 13 Chinese crew members were on board the two cargo ships. According to reports, the body of the 13th victim was found near the Chiang Khong District early on Monday.

The incident has received extensive media attention in China, and the country’s Foreign Ministry previously urged Thai authorities to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to justice. It also called on countries in the region to take effective measures to improve the protection of Chinese ships on the Mekong River.

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