News / USA

US DEA Takes 'Most Wanted' Campaign to Thai Entertainment Districts

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration and Thai police are seeking help in tracking down some of Southeast Asia's most wanted criminals.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration and Thai police are seeking help in tracking down some of Southeast Asia's most wanted criminals.

Multimedia

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration and Thai police are seeking help in tracking down some of Southeast Asia's most wanted criminals. 

Thailand's nightlife has long been associated with less-than-legal activities.

The US DEA and Thai authorities are using bar paraphernalia to track down their most wanted criminals
The US DEA and Thai authorities are using bar paraphernalia to track down their most wanted criminals
In the glow of the neon lights of Bangkok's go-go bars, scantily clad dancers and prostitutes, openly practice their trade.

Foreign tourists and expatriates calmly swig their drinks, undisturbed by the faces around them - some of them the region's most wanted drug dealers and murderers.

But the fugitives are not sitting at the bar. Their photos are on the beer-bottle holders, coasters, and matchbooks customers use.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration and Thai authorities say there may be most wanted criminals hiding in communities here.

And, to track them down, they are taking a fresh approach: displaying the faces of wanted criminals on bar paraphernalia, enlisting the support of bar owners like Samang Edwards.

Samang Edwards
Samang Edwards
Samang holds up a pen handed out by authorities and pulls on a little flap, rolling out a wanted poster. "I want to help to catch these kinds[s] of people," she said. "I don't like how the way they do for drug or whatever. It's very bad for people."

Samang says the pictures of wanted criminals do not bother her customers, who seem to enjoy the novelty.  

Some slightly inebriated patrons even claim to have seen some of those wanted.

But Danish expatriate Nicolai Kehlet points out the wanted picture on the bottle holder keeping his beer cold appears a bit dated. "I don't know. I mean, I guess anything that helps catching these guys would do difference, I think. It's like I said, it's hard to judge from these pictures. If you look around you've got all sorts of faces. And, my guess is they're changed a bit since then," Kehlet said.

At the top of the DEA's wanted list is Wei Hsueh Kang, a high-ranking official of the United Wa State Army - a drug-dealing rebel group that controls a large part of northeastern Burma.

Thomas Pasquarello, the DEA's director for East Asia, says U.S. authorities have been hunting for Wei since the 1990s and are offering up to $2 million for information leading to his arrest.

"They've been responsible for a ton, (large) amounts, of heroin as well as for methamphetamine. The organization is capable of producing thousands of kilograms of illicit narcotics. And, Mr. Wei Hsueh Kang is the financial genius behind it as well as the CEO of the criminal organization," he said.

Though Thailand is the focus, eight other countries across Asia are participating in the program, the first of its kind.

Since August, the program's web site has had over 70,000 hits and has generated 120 leads that are being investigated.  

Although it has yet to catch any fugitives, Pasquarello says there are signs the program has a positive effect. "We have received reports right from the very top of these organizations-they're not happy with the program. They're not happy with the publicity. And, again, for any criminal elements, they want to work underneath the radar of law enforcements. And, what this does is it exposes their operations, it exposes their network. So, it has had an impact on their operations," Pasquarello said.

He says they will measure the program's success by how much public input they receive and how many useful tips it generates.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs