Criminal Justice

9 Arrested in Alleged California Plot to Overthrow Government of Laos

A retired lieutenant colonel in the California National Guard and eight accomplices, including a former Laotian general, reportedly were arrested today in federal raids by some 200 agents spread across the state. Their alleged crime: a claimed plot to buy millions of dollars worth of weapons to help overthrow the communist government of Laos.

A “complaint” filed in federal court in Sacramento, reports Reuters, says the defendants intended to spend millions on arms to ship to Laos, via Thailand, and target on government and military facilities. “The defendants have issued instructions,” the document continues, “that the mercenary force is to destroy these government facilities, to reduce them to rubble, and make them look like the results of the attack upon the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.”

In addition to former Lt. Col. Harrison Ulrich Jack, of Woodland, in Yolo County, authorities say Gen. Vang Pao of Westminster, a prominent leader in the Hmong community, was also arrested, reports the Los Angeles Times. The paper characterizes Pao, who moved to the state 30 years ago, as “a CIA-backed ally of the United States during the Vietnam War,” and Reuters says Pao, 77, was in the Royal Lao Army before the 1975 communist takeover and led a CIA-trained army of mercenaries in Vietnam.

Search and arrest warrants reportedly were also executed in Fresno, where the Hmong community is concentrated.

The arrestees are charged with conspiracy, according to Reuters, and violating the federal neutrality act, which bans shipments of arms to be used in foreign conflicts, according to the Central Valley Business Times. Some reports said 10 arrests were made, but the Los Angeles Times says this figure is wrong and nine is the correct number.

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