Bangkok Post – 14-11-2008
Washington – US authorities on Thursday froze the assets and slapped sanctions on 26 individuals and 17 firms tied to drug trafficking in Burma, and put bounties on some.
The order prohibited US citizens from dealing with the men or companies.
Targetted were those linked to the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in southeast Asia, and Wei Hsueh Kang, a senior UWSA commander, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
They were named “Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers” by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
The Treasury said its “action freezes any assets the 43 designees may have under US jurisdiction and prohibits US persons from conducting transactions or dealings in the property interests of the designated individuals and entities.”
Corporations found violating the Kingpin Act could be fined up to $10 million while corporate officers could be fined up to $5 million and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines.
The United Wa State Army “is a major producer and exporter of synthetic drugs, including methamphetamine,” according to OFAC Deputy Director Barbara Hammerle who was quoted in the department’s statement.
“Today OFAC is targeting the Wa’s lieutenants and the financial holdings of this massive drug trafficking organisation. We call on other nations to do the same,” Hammerle was quoted as saying.
Under the Kingpin Act, US President George W Bush identified as significant foreign narcotics traffickers Wei Hsueh Kang, in 2000, and the UWSA, around three years later, it added.
In January 2005, federal prosecutors in New York “unsealed a criminal indictment charging Wei, along with his brothers Wei Hsueh Lung and Wei Hsueh Ying, who are designated today, for narcotics trafficking,” it said.
The US State Department is offering a reward of up to $2 million for tips leading to Wei’s capture.
Others named by the OFAC are Pao Yu Hsiang, Ho Chun Ting and Shih Kuo Neng.
Pao Yu Hsiang, indicted in 2005 with Wei Hsueh Kang, is the commander-in-chief of the UWSA, the treasury said.
In 2005, prosecutors in New York charged Ho Chun Ting and Shih Kuo Neng, among others, with money laundering and narcotics trafficking, it said.
In 2007, Hong Kong authorities arrested Ho Chun Ting, a partner of Wei Hsueh Kang, but Hong Kong later released him for unknown reasons, the treasury said.
Shih Kuo Neng is the manager of the Hong Pang conglomerate of companies, many of which were also named Wednesday. (AFP)