Hero or heroin?

Alleged coup plotter’s shady past eludes mainstream media

Former Vietnam War-era Hmong general Vang Pao.

Former Vietnam War-era Hmong general Vang Pao.

Photo by Manny Crisostomo/Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press

Nick Schou is the news and investigations editor at the Orange County alternative newsweekly OC Weekly.

The recent indictment of 11 mostly Hmong refugees from the Central Valley on charges of trying to overthrow the Laotian government sparked 1,000 protesters to converge on the Capitol last Sunday. Because the valley is home to the largest number of Hmong outside Southeast Aisa, the leader of the alleged plot, Vietnam War-era Hmong general Vang Pao, is probably better known here than in his home of Westminster, where his neighbors had no idea he used to be the CIA’s point-man for killing commies on the Loatian sector of the Ho Chi Minh Trial. The mainstream press has been quick to amplify the Hmong community’s view that Vang is a hero. What’s missing from these reports, including the ones in the Sacramento Bee, are mentions of works published as far back as the 1970s that suggest Vang employed brutal methods against his enemies, that he carried out executions and that he played a central role in Southeast Asia’s drug business that got American troops hooked on heroin and brought smack to our shores.

Read the original article in its entirety at OC Weekly.