The Scorpions Are Back
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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Scorpions Are Back

By WAI MOE Thursday, August 18, 2011


More than a dozen members of the infamous Scorpion Gang—a group of young gangsters from Burma’s elite families who roamed the streets and nightclubs of Rangoon in the 1990s and early 2000s—were released from prison on Monday, according to family members.

A relative of a Scorpion Gang member told The Irrawaddy that 15 gang members, including their leader Yan Naing, were set free on Monday and reunited with their families.

 “Good news, my brothermen will be out and about . 11 year of sentence, never gets worse. I hope they all can do well outside …,” a friend of the Scorpion Gang, who now lives in the UK, posted on Facebook just prior to the release.

The Scorpion Gang was formed in the 1990s by a group of youngsters from elite Rangoon families who would meet at high society nightclubs and learning institutes. By 1995, they had become the talk of the town, and for the next few years they went on a virtual rampage throughout the city, acting with the knowledge that their well-connected status made them virtually untouchable by Rangoon police.

The highest level connection that Scorpion Gang members enjoyed came through their friendship with Kyaw Ne Win, the grandson of former dictator Ne Win. Some alleged that Kyaw Ne Win was a leading member of the gang, although friends of the Scorpion Gang deny this was the case.

During the latter half of the 1990s, people in Rangoon quipped that the Scorpion Gang was virtually the second most powerful group in Rangoon—after the junta’s Military Intelligence unit. It got to the point that when Scorpions on motorbikes drove up to traffic junctions, the police turned the lights from red to green as if they were an official convoy.

Although in the early days the gang was mostly involved in rowdy behavior and petty crimes, it later expanded into car smuggling, extortion and drugs—becoming the Burmese equivalent of the Japanese Yakuza.

The gang gained even greater notoriety in 1998, when a young man and friend of the gang named Thar Lainmar reportedly died of a drug overdose and some of the Scorpions simply dropped his body in front of his home.

In 2001, however, the Scorpion Gang pushed their sense of impunity too far. At the time, there were rumors that one of the gang members was intimately involved with Nandar Aye, the daughter of Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, who was then the deputy commander-in-chief of Defense Services.

One day, gang members raced their motorbikes up next to Maung Aye’s convoy and pointed their fingers at the general’s vehicle, triggering a crackdown on the Scorpion Gang.

Some gang members went into hiding and fled the country, but 22 members, including the leaders, were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms. The citizens of Rangoon were also affected by the gang’s hubris—following the incident involving Maung Aye’s convoy, a ban on non-official motorbikes was instituted in the city, and the prohibition remains in effect today.

In addition, a few months after the crackdown on the Scorpion Gang, its most important benefactors were imprisoned as well. Kyaw Ne Win and his two brothers, Aye Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, along with Ne Win’s son-in-law, Aye Zaw Win, were arrested and given long prison sentences, while Ne Win and his daughter, Sandar Win, were placed under house arrest.

Being incarcerated didn’t keep the Scorpion Gang out of the headlines for long. In Sept. 2005, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma reported that the Scorpion inmates attacked political prisoners in Rangoon’s Insein Prison. 

Now, after spending a decade behind bars, 15 Scorpions are back in Rangoon and ready to celebrate with their friends and families (two of the imprisoned gang members died in jail, and five remain in prison due to drug convictions).
 “I picked up my brother at Insein Prison on Monday afternoon,” said the brother of a released Scorpion. “We all are very happy—especially the elders.”

Meanwhile, the family members of Burma’s 2,000 plus political prisoners wait for their loved ones to be released by President Thein Sein’s government.

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thomas Wrote:
Scorpion+Swan Ar Shin=?

seatownz Wrote:
I'd like to see these so-called Scorpion "Gangsters" roll into South Central LA.
I wonder how many hours they'd last.

Shwebokyawmin Wrote:
A bit off the topic, but nevertheless related to unruly off-springs of the generals: Whatever happened to that spoiled snivelling grandson of than swe "nay-shwe-thwye-aung"? He used to be in the news quite often.

shwe moe Wrote:
The Scorpions Are Back - why so much coverage for a group of thugs who are bound to sting the streets and homes of Yangon again. I had a run in with them in early 2000 and I have never forgotten their faces. However; I am better prepared this time to have my day.

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
It is important that to release all political prisoners due to their beliefs and peaceful demonstration, they were arrested and put long term jail is unjust. It is therefore as good gesture of Thein Sein government all political prisoners release is a must so that international community will one step consider for the change and formation of NATIONAL GOVERNMENT can be possible in the very near future.

Venus Wrote:
Wait and see this Scorpion Gang and the existing Elite Naing Ngan Daw Sein Myauk Myauk's Mafia Gang, the two's fighting and murdering.

KKK Wrote:
Let's see Scorpion Gang can eliminate Lion Gang or not.

kerry Wrote:
'Scorpions' are released and comedians and those with integrity are not?

Interesting idea of 'change'!

Fred Wrote:
The gangsters are set free while the political prisoners stay in jail. Who does Thein Sein want to return, drug smugglers?

Nyunt Han Wrote:
Don't care about them. They are just history.

Kyaw Zin Wrote:
No welcome for the release of thugs. They are not different from Swan Arr Shin, govt's puppet thugs. We don't need thugs roaming around in the society.

Please release political prisoners who are jailed for their conscience.

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