Phonsavan, Laos – ZQ correspondent and investigative reporter Brian Williams was in Laos investigating the disappearance of his Hmong wife when he came across a startling discovery: his wife’s disappearance was not an isolated incident. Hundreds of Hmong men also travel to Laos hoping to bring their wives to America, only to find out Lao and Thai gangsters have kidnapped them. Local authorities are looking into the kidnappings but with the increasing number of cases each day, they are unable to make any progress. Williams met Lue Xiong and Nam Vam Lee while both were visiting the same village to meet their wives.
Upon hearing rumors that second and third wives are allowed in Hmong culture, Williams googled “Where can I find a Hmong wife” which led him to the Hmong website Tojsiab.com, where he was able to browse through hundreds of young Hmong girls from Laos and Thailand. He made up his mind to find a Hmong girl, marry her, and bring her back to the United States. He already had a plan in place when he got to Laos. A military helicopter would pick them up and escort them to the U.S embassy in Laos. From there, Williams would fly his Hmong wife to the United States to meet his American wife.
“There I was,” says Williams, “in the village of KaNong looking for my wife. Except that Molly, as I nicknamed her, was missing. I met these two Hmong American men who also came here for their wives. With no help available from the authorities, I told them we had to do what all Americans do when someone goes missing. We had to make posters! But since there were no light poles we had to nail them to trees and so that is what we did.”
Lue Xiong is an aging man in his fifties with a short stature, receding hairline, and mid-sized belly. His wife, Nkauj Ntses Vue, was supposed to meet him at the outskirts of KaNong. They were to go to Thailand to see her mom, who was recovering from surgery. Xiong had helped Vue’s family last year. Both of Vue’s parents were sick and in the hospital a lot. Being halfway across the world, all Xiong could do was help pay all the financial health costs.
Xiong first met Vue a year ago while he was working for Lao Family Community. He was invited on a trip to Laos with all the male board members. The trip was funded by the organization to do a study on the health and wellbeing of the Hmong in Laos. When Xiong first saw Nkauj Ntses Vue selling homemade jewelry at the side of the road, it was love at first sight. She gave him a Pikachu emblem to keep as a sign of friendship. Xiong says he remembers her first words.
“When she give me Pikachu she say, I give you, we friend. Hiv hiv.”
He didn’t have a lot of money with him so he asked board members if he could use $5,000 from the Lao Family Community fund to pay for his wife. It was a unanimous vote of “yay” to approve the money for Xiong to marry his wife. Unfortunately like every other man that marries a Hmong wife in Laos, there would be a long process of paperwork ahead of them before she could join him in America.
“I loving my wife a lot,” Xiong continues. “I don’t wanting her to being sad or depressing. I send MoneyGram each week to helping pay for doctor and medicines. She so happy she will be getting to honeymoon when I come to Laos. Now the Lao and Thai gangster took her. I wanting help to finding her. I being so sad right nows. ”
Meanwhile, two years ago Nam Vam Lee met his wife Nkauj Noog Vue on Tojsiab.com. They did the sugary talk about sex, lies, and videotapes on Skype many nights. Lee fell in love and flew to visit Vue. When they met in person Lee knew this was the one; she would be his fourth wife. They had a small celebration in the village to announce their marriage. It was a bittersweet moment as Lee know he would have to go home alone until he could get her a visa to come to the States.
Lee is in his late forties and works as an Investment adviser for First Financial Securities, where he sells overpriced and under-performing investments to Hmong people. He also drinks and sells Organo Gold coffee which miraculously helped cure his gout. Just last month he became a member of the Mercedes Club of Organo Gold for being a top performer. This year alone he has spent nearly $20,000 to get his wife a visa to the United States. Lee has also sent money to help her dad fix his truck, fix the roof, and bail her brother out of jail, totaling nearly over $10,000.
Lee says, “These Laos and Thai gangsters watch out for people. They see you have a nice thing then they want to come steal or kidnap you. I miss my wife so much but I don’t know what to do. The white guy he said make posters so I make. I willing not stop til I finding my wife. ”
Lee was unable to continue talking as he was too emotional. But both men agree if they aren’t able to find their wives in a few days, they will have no choice but to court the many other beautiful girls in town.
Xiong and Lee provided ZQ with the posters they have been nailing to trees around the village. If you have any information please help by calling the numbers listed. ■