Editorial: Bloody mass murder stems from drug trade
Saturday, March 21 ( updated 3:00 am)

A mass murder in a small North Carolina town turned into a modern morality play as facts emerged this week.

Authorities have determined that drug trafficking was behind the slaughter of four members of a Conover family March 12.

The tragedy shows that delving into a dirty, illegal business can have unintended, deadly consequences.

While Brian Tzeo has not been charged with any crime, the Catawba County Sheriff's Office says he admitted his role in a drug-smuggling ring, receiving opium mailed from Thailand. Tzeo wasn't home when authorities say an associate, Chiew Chan Saevang, went to his house to steal opium and killed Tzeo's wife and three children.

Events took another bizarre turn Wednesday. Saevang and his girlfriend, Yer Yang, also an alleged member of the drug ring, crashed their car in Utah during a pursuit and died by murder-suicide, the Washington County, Utah, Sheriff's Office said.

Theirs were the fifth and sixth deaths in this horrific affair.

Neighbors of the Tzeo family and members of the area's Southeast Asian immigrant communities expressed shock, both at the crime itself and at the alleged drug connection. Tzeo and his wife came to the United States from Laos in the 1980s.

"I just don't understand," said Tong Yang, a leader in Catawba County's Hmong community. "Why would someone do something that would jeopardize his family?"

"I regret everything," Tzeo told the Associated Press on Thursday. "It's something I never should have gotten involved in. It's hard to live with this."

The regret is too late. Maybe Tzeo saw an opportunity to make a lot of money but never thought about the risks to his family.

Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman said opium or heroin, which is made from opium, worth $160,000 to $200,000 was stolen from the Tzeo house. Some people are willing to kill for that much money -- willing to kill even a 4-year-old boy, who was the youngest victim of this crime.

Neighbors would not have been safe, either, if any had been unlucky enough to witness the attack.

It provides good reason for neighbors to report suspected drug activity to authorities before something like this happens.

And it offers a painful moral: Getting mixed up in a dirty business can claim a swift and terrible price.

http://www.news-record.com/content/2009 ... drug_trade