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Wei Hsueh-kang (simplified Chinese: 魏学刚; traditional Chinese: 魏學剛; pinyin: Wèi Xuégāng; Wade–Giles: Wei Hsüeh-kang, also known as Prasit Cheewinnitipanya or Charnchai Cheevinnitipanya, born May 29, 1952, Yunnan, China) is an infamous drug kingpin currently operating as the Southern Commander of the United Wa State Army.
Wei was believed to be closely associated with the notorious drug baron Khun Sa during the height of opium production in the Golden Triangle, and remains wanted by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs for drug offences committed within the United States, which is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture. He is currently believed to be in Myanmar, probably within UWSA controlled territory of Wa State.
Although Wei was granted Thai citizenship in 1985, three years later in 1988, he was facing a sentence of life imprisonment by the Thai Government. He jumped bail however, and his Thai nationality was later revoked in 2001.
Recent reports suggest that Wei has downsized his involvement in drug trafficking, partly in response to his ‘wanted’ status by the US. However, his continued affiliation with the UWSA brings unique experience and expertise in drug production and trafficking, and reinforces doubts about the extent of their commitment to stamping out the trade.
Wei Hsueh-kang founded the Hong Pang Group in 1998 with revenues from the drug trade after taking advantage of the privileges offered in the cease-fire deal by Gen Khin Nyunt. Its position in the country's economy, not just the Wa State, is reflected by a multitude of businesses it owns and controls in construction, agriculture, gems and minerals, petroleum, electronics and communications, distilleries and department stores. Hong Pang Group is based at Panghsang with offices also in Yangon, Mandalay, Lashio, Tachilek and Mawlamyine.
- Min Lwin. "Wa Businessman Flees Drug Charges". The Irrawaddy, February 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Wai Moe. "Wa Army to Celebrate 20th Anniversary". The Irrawaddy, April 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Show business
- Thai government revokes nationality of alleged drug smuggler (article is located in the middle of page
- Thai Police Seize 2.3 Mln Dollars Worth of Asset of Fugitive Drug Lord
- "The Hong Pang Group". Bangkok Post. July 6, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Fire in Panghsang". Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.). 19 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-19.