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US agents thwart planned Laos coup plot

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The Times reports that Mr. Jack and Mr.Vang attempted to recruit former US special forces soldiers and Navy SEALs to fight in their militia. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times reports that they planned to securetraining for Hmong-Americans through the California Highway Patrol.

An affidavit filed by an undercover agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives alleges that the group planned to use CHP training to develop a cadre of officers to help with the military operations and provide security in the new regime.

According to the affidavit, Jack told the agent the group wanted as many operatives as possible to attend the CHP Academy, a rigorous 27-week course.

After the coup, "the newly trained Hmong CHP officers would abandon the CHP and move to Laos to take positions of trust in the law enforcement departments" of the new Laotian government that would be headed by Gen. Pao, according to the ATF agent, whose name was redacted from the affidavit.

Federal agents moved in to arrest the conspirators as they allegedly prepared to receive their first weapons shipment.

Pao is known in California and Minnesota — Hmong hubs in the US — as a prominent community leader who has helped countless immigrants since his arrival in 1975. He has also proved a powerful lobbyist for Hmong causes.

The Merced Sun-Star reports that Pao had developed a number of strong ties inside the US government.

"The contributions that Gen. Vang Pao has made to the Hmong and Laotian people of California have been invaluable," Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, declared in a House statement on May 8, 1996.

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