Thai gunrunner reveals arms supply info - NIA team prepares extradition of accused and to track down absconders
Guwahati, Sept. 23: A Thai gunrunner, apprehended in Bangkok recently, has revealed “key information” about the supply chain for smuggling arms from China to the Northeast through Bangladesh.
Willy Naruenartwanich alias Willy Narue, who figures on the wanted list of National Investigation Agency (NIA), was picked up by Thai authorities from Bangkok on August 30 following India’s request. A team of NIA officials is camping in Bangkok to start the extradition process.
An official source told The Telegraph that preliminary questioning of the accused by Thai authorities has revealed that he, along with the leaders of NSCN (I-M), had hatched a plan to send a huge consignment of arms and ammunitions from China to the Northeast. “Willy had told Thai police that the arms consignment was to start from Beihei port in South China Sea near Vietnam to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. On the high seas, the consignment was to be shifted to small fishing trawlers to reach Bangladesh, and then to the Northeast,” he said.
The NIA is hoping to extract crucial information about Willy’s contacts and their bases in Bangladesh. It hopes to track them down with the help of the Bangladesh government to break the supply chain of arms for the Northeast rebel groups.
Willy, of Thai-Chinese origin, is one of the four accused chargesheeted by the NIA in its case number RC-01.
The case was registered by the agency in 2010 in connection with the alleged conspiracy by NSCN (I-M) leaders Anthony Shimray, T.R. Cavlin and Hangshi Ramson, to procure arms and ammunitions from China. They were, however, forced to abort their plan following Shimray’s arrest in September 2010. The other two NSCN (I-M) leaders are still absconding.
According to the NIA, a middleman introduced Shimray to Willy, who runs a spa and a restaurant in Bangkok. “Shimray told Willy he wanted to procure 1,000 firearms. Willy introduced Shimray to Yuthna, who is a representative of a Chinese firm called TCL in 2007. TCL is a front for Chinese arms manufacturing giant Norinco and through TCL they have planned to procure the arms and ammunition,” the source said.
“Shimray had told Yuthna that the NSCN (I-M) wants to procure arms for $1million (approximately Rs 60 crore), including AK-series automatic rifles, light machine guns, rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and five lakh rounds of ammunition,” the source said.
According to him, Shimray had paid $700,000 to TCL through Willy in May, 2009. He said the NIA has emails exchanged between Shimray and Willy and electronic receipts sent to Shimray for the payment.
Shimray had also paid $100,000 to shipping agent Kittichai of Intermarine Shipping Company of Bangkok.
The source said the payment was made to the Chinese firm through normal banking channels via a leading private bank’s branch in an African country.
“Willy had also allegedly helped Shimray to get an end-user certificate from Laos,” he said.”