BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Sources with the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday that Lao police had interrogated a drug lord in China who is suspected of masterminding the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year.
A team headed by Sysavath Keomalavong, director general of the Lao General Police Department, came to China on invitation of China's Ministry of Public Security in a joint effort with its Chinese counterpart to deal with the cross-border massacre.
The Lao police chief said the successful capture of Naw Kham through close teamwork between Chinese and Lao police forces was an important achievement in the cooperation for maintaining security of the Mekong River.
Naw Kham, head of an armed drug gang and believed to be in cahoots with the bandits who killed the Chinese sailors, was arrested on April 25 at an undisclosed location in the Laos.
The drug lord was extradited to China for investigation and court trial on May 10.
Chinese police said a joint police investigation in China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand found evidence that Naw Kham, core members of the gang, and a small number of Thai soldiers planned and conducted the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo ships on Oct. 5 last year.
Public Security Ministry said it dispatched a work team to Thailand on Thursday to discuss the murder and exchange evidences with Thai police force. The ministry will also send a similar work team to Myanmar.
The gang had more than 100 members and was armed with assault rifles, bazookas and machine guns. They are believed to have engaged in drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, looting and other crimes along the Mekong for many years.
According to the ministry, the gang is believed to be behind 28 robberies and gun-related crimes directed at Chinese vessels and citizens since 2008, resulting in 16 deaths and three injuries.
Meng Jianzhu, Minister of Public Security, said during his visit to the Laos on July 9 that the extradition of Naw Kham showcased brotherhood-like strategic mutual trust between the Laos and China.
Sysavath said the Lao police were willing to strengthen cooperation with China to conduct the follow-up investigation, and continue to eliminate other members of the gang for maintaining shipping security along the Mekong River.
Senior cabinet members from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand met in Beijing on Oct. 31 last year and agreed to take joint action to crack down on cross-border crime and secure transportation along the Mekong River.
Under the framework of the "Law Enforcement Cooperation along the Mekong River Mechanism," the four countries have created new channels for intelligence exchanges, patrolling and law enforcement, as well as for tackling incidents that disrupt public order, combating transnational crimes and dealing with emergency events.