Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Zhao Wei Transnational Criminal Organization (Zhao Wei TCO) pursuant to Executive Order 13581, "Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations." Based in Laos within the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GTSEZ), the Zhao Wei TCO exploits this region by engaging in drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and wildlife trafficking, much of which is facilitated through the Kings Romans Casino located within the GTSEZ.
OFAC also designated a network of four individuals and three entities across three jurisdictions – Laos, Thailand, and Hong Kong – for materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Zhao Wei TCO, or for being owned or controlled by persons designated as part of this action. As a result of today's action, all assets of those designated that are under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
"The Zhao Wei crime network engages in an array of horrendous illicit activities, including human trafficking and child prostitution, drug trafficking, and wildlife trafficking. We are targeting key figures in this transnational criminal organization, which stretches from the Kings Romans Casino in Laos throughout Southeast Asia," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "OFAC is designating the Zhao Wei network as part of a broader strategy to disrupt the financial infrastructure of transnational criminal organizations that pose a threat to the United States and our allies."
Operating largely through the Kings Roman Casino, the Zhao Wei TCO facilitates the storage and distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, and other narcotics for illicit networks, including the United Wa State Army, operating in neighboring Burma, which the President identified in 2003 as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Since 2014, Thai, Lao, and Chinese authorities have seized large narcotics shipments that have been traced to the Kings Romans Casino.