Prominent Businessman’s Associates Arrested in Drugs Raids
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Prominent Businessman’s Associates Arrested in Drugs Raids

By MIN LWIN Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A Burmese special drugs squad has arrested several associates of the influential businessman Aik Hawk, also known as Hsiao Haw, following the seizure of heroin in a series of raids in Rangoon, according to well-informed sources.

Aik Hawk, who is in his 40s, is the son-in-law of Bao Youxiang, the chairman of one of the largest armed groups in Burma, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which is heavily involved in the drugs trade.

In this file photo, Burmese soldiers and civilians use sticks to cut the opium poppies in a jungle field in Shan State, northeast of Burma. (Photo: AP)
Aik Hawk has been accused of handling money laundering operations for the UWSA.
“He has played a key role in the UWSA’s financial connections with high profile businessmen and senior military officials,” said one Rangoon business source.

“He also runs Yangon Airways, hotels, logging, foreign currency exchanges and the estate agent Yangon Holdings,” he said.

Rangoon sources said Aik Hawk was implicated in a drugs squad raid in which heroin was discovered in a container on the ship Kota Tegap.

Saeng Juen, an assistant editor at the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News, said Aik Hawk was born in Longlin in China’s Yunnan Province and moved as a teenager to Ta Moengngen in Kutkhai Township, Northern Shan State.

“As far as I know, he holds two passports, Burmese and Chinese,” Saeng Juen said.

According to the Shan Herald Agency for News, Aik Hawk is the principal shareholder in Mong Mau Co., one of some 30 subsidiaries of the now defunct Hongpang Co. He is said to be handling money-laundering operations for both Bao Youxiang and Bao’s brother, Wei Hsueh-kang, and to be working closely with Jadeland Co. Of Kachin State.

Rangoon sources say Aik Hawk was a key player in the Myanmar Mayflower Bank, which was closed down in 2003 because of links to drug trafficking organizations.

Meanwhile, the International Herald Tribune reported on Monday that the UN's anti-drugs agency recorded a 3 percent increase in 2008 in the area of Burma cultivated for opium production. It was the second consecutive increase and appeared to signal
a reversal of years of declining opium production in the so-called Golden Triangle.

According to the newspaper report, Gary Lewis, the representative for East Asia of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told a news conference on Monday: "Containment of the problem is under threat."

Lewis said: "Opium prices are rising in this region. It's going to be an incentive for farmers to plant more."

The Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma meet, once produced two-thirds of the world's opium, most of it refined into heroin. But pressure by the Chinese government to eradicate opium in Burma helped lead to steep declines, with a low point of 21,500 hectares, or 53,000 acres, of poppies planted in Burma in 2006.

Since then, the area under opium cultivation has increased by around 33 percent, to 28,500 hectares last year.

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