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Burma shielding Khun Sa

Burma shielding Khun Sa
US investigators hot on his trial: source

Bangkok Post (November 27, 1997)

Former opium warlord Khun Sa has moved to a military compound after
claims by Burmese government that US officials were trying to nab him,
Thai narcotics officers and sources close to Khun Sa said yesterday.

They said Burma's military government, the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC), decided to shift Khun Sa from his lakeside villa to
protect him from US officials.

Khun Sa's associates and Thai narcotics officials said he was moved
after Washington began an investigation into $600 million (2.4 billion
bath) of laundered money that was believed to be circulating in Burmese
business areas.

US officials in Bangkok would not comment and US embassy officials could
not be reached in Rangoon.

One of Khun Sa's aides, speaking in Chiang Mai, said: "The Burmese
claimed that the Americans were trying to snatch him so they urged (Khun
Sa) to leave the lakeside villa and go to the MIS compound near
(Rangoon's) airport.

He quoted Khun Sa third wife, who returned from a visit to Rangoon, as
saying the former opium warlord was healthy but had confined himself to
the military compound.

A source in a Thai narcotics agency based in Chiang Mai confirmed the
report. We heard that the Burmese relocated him to a safe place after
the United States started investigating some $600 million laundering
money that was circulated in Burma," he said.

Khun Sa who surrendered to Burmese troops in January 1996, is wanted by
the United States where he has been indicted on various counts of drug

But the former Burmese government, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc), refused to extradite Khun Sa after his surrender,
saying it would deal with Khun Sa under Burmese law. The SPDC, whose
formation earlier this month abolished the Slorc, has given no sign of
change in policy.

Khun Sa is the former commander of the now-defunct Mong Tai Army (MTA).
He used to command more that 20,000 guerillas and portrayed himself as a
freedom fighter but international drug agencies accused him of using MTA
to protect his heroin business in the Golden Triangle.

Khun Sa's associates said the Burmese government would allow only family
members to visit the former warlord.

"He had four living wives, one in Chiang Mai, two in Mai Sai and one
lives in Burma's (town of) Tachilek. These wives rotate in visiting
him," he said.

Khun Sa has four sons, four of whom oversee Khun Sa's various business
in Burma.

A Thai narcotics official said two of Khun Sa's sons were now
cooperating with United Wa State Army (UWSA) in the heroin business.

The UWSA is a former rebel group that struck a cease-fire with the
Burmese military government in the early 1990s. A former rival to Khun
Sa, it has controlled opium growing and heroin production in the Golden
Triangle since he surrendered.

"The UWSA now dominate the drug business in Shan State and has overrun
all of Khun Sa's bases and his sons are now joining them," the Thai
narcotic source said.