Naw Kham

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Naw Kham
Sai Naw Kham

(1969-11-08)8 November 1969
Died1 March 2013(2013-03-01) (aged 43)
OrganizationHawngleuk Militia
Criminal chargeMurder
Criminal penaltyLethal injection
Parent(s)Khun Zeun, Nang Mya Oo

Sai Naw Kham (Burmese: နော်ခမ်း, Shan: ၼေႃႇၶမ်း; also spelt Nor Kham; 8 November 1969 – 1 March 2013) was a Burmese drug trafficker and leader of a major drug trafficking gang in the Golden Triangle, a major drugs-smuggling area where the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand converge.[1] He was executed for killing 13 Chinese sailors.

Drug crimes[edit]

Naw Kham was formerly a subordinate associate of Khun Sa, a major Burmese drug lord who surrendered to the Burmese government in 1996 in exchange for amnesty.[1] Naw's gang numbered in the hundreds and included members of Khun Sa's former paramilitary forces, along with ethnic rebels.[1] At its height, Naw Kham's militia, the Hawngleuk Militia had 100 members and was based out of Tachileik, near the Thai-Burmese border.[2] It was composed of guerillas from Shan State ethnic minorities such as the Shan, Wa, Lahu, Kachin and Palaung. The militia was involved in trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin, kidnapping, murder, racketeering, and banditry in the Mekong River area.[2] Over the years, Naw Kham generated an estimated US$63 million in income through his crimes.[2]

In custody[edit]

After the Mekong River massacre in October 2011 and subsequent backlash from the Chinese, Laotian officials arrested Naw Kham and extradited him to China on 10 May 2012.[3] Then in the July 2012 raids of Naw Kham's militia bases, Burmese authorities seized over 600,000 methamphetamine pills and 120 bars of heroin.[3] Hunting for Naw Kham, the Chinese "special task group" has used new technologies such as the Beidou System according to the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China. Because the gang's remote hiding area is difficult to reach, even a UAV "execution operation" was once proposed.[4]

On 21 September 2012, Naw Kham pleaded guilty at the Intermediate People's Court in Kunming, Yunnan[5] to the murders of thirteen Chinese sailors killed during the Mekong River massacre. He and three of his subordinates were sentenced to death. On 26 December 2012, the Yunnan Higher Court rejected Naw Kham's appeals, upholding the death penalties.[6]

Trial and execution[edit]

Naw Kham was executed by lethal injection in Kunming on 1 March 2013 together with his three subordinates: Hsang Kham from Thailand; Yi Lai, stateless; and Zha Xika, a Laotian.[7][8][9] Another 2 members of Naw Kham's gang, identified as Zha bo and Zha Tuobo, received a death sentence with reprieve and 8 years in prison, respectively.


  1. ^ a b c Wang Xiaomei (20 September 2012). "Background: Life of Naw Kham". CCTV. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Thornton, Phil (30 September 2012). "Mekong River bandit's powerful friends dry up". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Raids on Naw Kham Bases Net Heroin, Speed". The Irrawaddy. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  4. ^ 环球网. 17 Feb 2013 Retrieved 17 Feb 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Tang Danlu (21 September 2012). "Principal suspect of Mekong River attack pleads guilty". Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Burmese drug lord's final appeal rejected". MIZZIMA. 27 December 2012. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  7. ^ 糯康等湄公河案四名罪犯被依法执行死刑. 人民网 (in Chinese). 1 Mar 2013. Retrieved 2 Mar 2013.
  8. ^ China executes drug kingpin with last moments on TV
  9. ^ "China Executes 4 Foreigners over Mekong Murders". The Irrawaddy. 1 Mar 2013. Retrieved 3 Mar 2013.