Police bust ring trafficking guns to Tibet

Updated: 2011-10-19 15:53


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KUNMING - Chinese police have arrested 17 people involved in a ring that smuggled guns from strife-torn northern Myanmar, crossed the mountainous Shangri-la region, and sold them to several predominantly Tibetan regions in southwest China, local police reported Wednesday.

Two people involved in the ring were apprehended in early March in a remote ethnic region in Yunnan province bordering Myanmar before more than 60 police officers began a months-long manhunt across regions, said police in Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture.

The others involved in the ring were apprehended in Lhasa of Tibet autonomous region, the Tibetan prefecture of Garze in Sichuan province, and the Tibetan prefecture of Deqen in Yunnan. Nine guns, including eight pistols and a rifle, along with 267 bullets were confiscated, police added.

The nationalities of the ring members have not been disclosed.

Police said the suspects confessed that they began trafficking guns from Myanmar in 2009. All of the firearms were sold to Tibet and Tibetan regions in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.

Chinese laws prohibit the illegal possession, production and trade of firearms and explosives. Those convicted of firearms trafficking can face the death sentence.

Nestled among the mountains of the Shangri-la region, Nujiang is known as a key passage into Tibet's Nyingchi Prefecture from Yunnan or Myanmar.

Yunnan police said that, in recent years, people vying for big money have started trafficking firearms, taking advantage of loose gun control laws amid arm conflicts in northern Myanmar.

In 2009, local police busted another smuggling ring and arrested 11 suspects. Seventeen military guns, bullets, and a number of explosives were confiscated.