Weapons cache found at ACE Hotel as son of former minister arrested


NAY PYI TAW — The son of a former government minister and high-flying businessman has been arrested after handguns and illicit drugs were discovered in luggage at Nay Pyi Taw International Airport yesterday evening.

Police confirmed to Frontier that three people, including U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San – the son of former sports and tourism minister U Tint San, who owns ACE Group of Companies – were arrested prior to a 5:30pm flight to Yangon on October 15.

The men were carrying a bag containing two Australian-made 9mm handguns, a drone, walkie-talkies, 12 WY methamphetamine pills and 1.5 grams of ice, police said.

Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung, who is based in Nay Pyi Taw, said the weapons were allegedly owned by Phyo Ko Ko Tint San. A search of ACE Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw found seven more handguns allegedly owned by Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, as well as a cache of bullets and other military paraphernalia.

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“The number of guns seized [at the airport] was not many. [They were] just for self-defence,” Pol Col Zaw Khin Aung said.

“We searched ACE Hotel, which he [Phyo Ko Ko Tint San] used like a home, and found more guns there. We will release more information this evening.”

A press conference is expected at 2pm.

Pol Col Zaw Khin Aung added that initial investigations indicated the weapons were “not related to terrorist organisations or other organisations”.

But privately owned guns are extremely rare in Myanmar and the officer said the weapons uncovered at the airport were “not like those that we normally see locally”.

A Ministry of Home Affairs Facebook post said the weapons found at the hotel included Glock, Ruger, Luger and Beretta handguns.

Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s family could not be reached for comment.

Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, 41, is an active director in many family businesses, including ACE Group of Companies. He is also the owner of Nay Pyi Taw Football Club, which was dismissed from the Myanmar National League in September after it failed to pay its players and staff for almost five months.

The family has a long association with the military and Union Solidarity and Development Party. ACE constructed a number of buildings in Nay Pyi Taw for the military, including the national parliament and ACE Hotel, which was used by high-level dignitaries during ASEAN meetings in 2014.

In 2010, Tint San won a seat for the USDP in that year’s general election before resigning to take up the positions of minister for sport and minister for hotels and tourism. In September 2012 he was replaced as tourism minister but through the sport portfolio oversaw the hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in December 2013.

In the April 2012 by-elections, Phyo Ko Ko Tint San ran as a USDP candidate for the Pyithu Hluttaw seat of Myaungmya in Ayeyarwady Region but was easily defeated by National League for Democracy candidate U Mahn Johnny.

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