Vang Pao devoted his life to fighting communism in Laos—until the U.S. government arrested him

Categories: Crime

The most recent issue of Orange County Weekly features a story on former Royal Lao Army General Vang Pao and the recent arrest for his involvement in the secret purchase of millions of dollars worth of AK-47s, C-4 explosives and Stinger missiles. Dubbed Operation Popcorn, the armaments, along with hundreds of American mercenaries, would be smuggled from Thailand to Hmong insurgents in Laos. An excerpt: "If convicted, Vang faces a possible sentence of life in prison. Thousands of Hmong gathered in Sacramento to protest his arrest, many of them chanting, 'Free Vang Pao!' and charging the U.S. government with betraying Vang, who has for decades openly advocated a violent overthrow of the Laotian government. As recently as February 2007, the New Republic quoted Vang bragging that he would pull off a coup in Laos sometime this year. 'The U.S. has better rifles, better guns than the communists,' Vang said. 'If they give me the guns, I can conquer Laos in 2007. I still believe I can do it.' Despite this, Vang's lawyer, John Balazs, quickly released a statement declaring Vang's innocence." Read Nick Shou's story, The General's Last Stand, here.

Related: The Last Place on Earth, The Outsiders, Exodus


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