[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Golden Tringle full of drugs despit

Subject: Golden Tringle full of drugs despite Khun Sa's surrender (The Asian Age, 25/11/96.)

Golden Triangle full of drugs despite Khun Sa's surrender 
The Asian Age, 25/11/96.
Bangkok, Nov. 24: The surrender of the Shan drug lord Khun 
Sa and Rangoon's peace agreements with ethnic insurgents in 
opium-growing border areas have done little to stem the tide of 
narcotics out of Burma, experts say.
According to US government figures, opium production grew 
by, nine percent during the 1995-1996 growing season, despite 
claims by the Burmese government that millions of dollars were 
being spent to wean farmers off cultivation.
And while the flow of heroin into Thailand has ebbed, the 
amount leaving Burma - via alternative routes to the north 
through Laos and China - has not, the experts say.
The US figures, based on satellite photography, indicate Burma 
produced 2, 560 tonnes of opium resin during the 1995-1996 
season - up 210 tonnes from the previous year - with a potential 
to produce more than 250 tonnes of refined heroin.
The figures represent more than 90 percent of the opium yield 
in the Golden Triangle of south-east Asia and more than half of 
the total global production, estimated to be in the region of 
4,000 tonnes.
"The supply is enormous and getting bigger," General Barry 
McCaffrey, director of the US Office of National Drug Control 
Policy said, noting that it would be countries in the region, 
particularly Burma's ally China, that would be liable to pay the 
heaviest social costs.
The US surveys show that some 163,000 hectares were devoted 
to opium poppy cultivation in Burma, particularly in the Shan 
state close to the eastern border with Thailand as well as in 
Kachin state further north.
"The Burmese government is making little or no effort to stop 
people from growing it," said one Rangoon-based expert, who 
requested anonymity.
"The most intense areas of production are outside government 
control. It's not their priority to end opium-growing. It's to 
maintain peace with the ethnic insurgencies," he told AFP. 
Fifteen minority rebel groups, some with strong involvement in 
the drugs trade, have reached cease-fire agreements with the 
ruling military junta since it came to power in 1988. 
Colonel Thein Hun, director-general of border development, 
told AFP the Burmese government had invested more than 300 
million donors in projects for the 15 former insurgencies since 
1989, including crop substitution programmes. 
In the past seven years, opium production in former poppy-
growing areas had dropped between 60 and 70 per cent, he 
Earlier this year narcotics officials in northern Thailand reported 
that the surrender of Khun Sa had dislocated the traditional 
supply of heroin from Burma and the drug's price had 
Prices stabilised after refineries were relocated towards the 
Chinese border and into Thailand and Laos, but they remained 
above former levels, the Rangoon-based expert said. 
"Khun Sa's surrender affected the amount of heroin going into 
Thailand, but not the amount coming out of Burma," he said. 
Traffickers initially found alternative routes through Laos and 
China, although some heroin refineries were now relocating 
back into Khun Sa's former fiefdom in the southern Shan State, 
he noted. Khun Sa, the self-styled Shan leader who reputedly 
controlled heroin refining operations in the southern Shan state, 
surrendered with 1 1,000 of his troops in January. He has not 
faced prosecution, and the Burmese government has rejected 
calls for his extradition to the United States where he was 
indicted on narcotics charges in 1989. (AFP)