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SHAN STATE: OTHER PLAYERS IN THE DR
Subject: SHAN STATE: OTHER PLAYERS IN THE DRUG TRADE
/* Written 14 Jan 6:00am 1996 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* -------------" Shan State: The other players "--------------- */
THE OTHER PLAYERS IN THE DRUG TRADE
There are many other players in the drug trade in the Shan State, although
Khun Sa being the most well-known to the net. Many of those from
former Burma's Communist Party, which was mutinied in 1989 into WA and KOKANG
ethnic forces and signed cease-fire agreement with SLORC , become the most
prominent in drug trade. The OBLF report mentioned about YANG, PHAUNG,
No one seems to have been more informed than Mr Lintner when it comes to
the Drug and Insurgency issues in Burma. Following is a short excerpt from
his report in May 1993, "THE POLITICS OF DRUG TRADE IN BURMA", the names
and *colourful* background of the druglords in Burma.
It is also interesting to note that some of those who attending the SLORC's
national convention as the representatives of ethnic nationalities may
actually be the Chinese nationals who were born in Yunnan - as the report
indicated. -- U Ne Oo.
BERTIL LINTNER, "THE POLITICS OF THE DRUG TRADE IN BURMA"
OCCASIONAL PAPER NO.33
INDIAN OCEAN CENTRE FOR PEACE STUDIES
The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, 6009.
" Intelligence sources almost immediately named about a dozen Kokang
comanders and former CPB officers who had seemed to have taken particular
advangate of the mutually beneficial arrangement with Burma's military:
LO HSING-HAN, the old opium warlord from Kokang is at the apex of the new
heroin empire in northeastern Burma. Born in 1934 in the small village of
Ta Tsu Chin on Kokang's border with Chailn, Lo, while still in his teens,
served with the private army of the local rulers of Kokang, the Yang
family. His past involvement in the opium trade has been recorded earlier
in this paper; today, he directs the traffic from his residence in Lashio
and his camp at the Salween Village near Nampawng which also serves as a
liaison post for the Burmese military and the former CPB forces in Mong Ko
and Kokang. Salween Village camp is also located only two miles away from
Khun Sa's northernmost outpost at Loi Leng mountain, so an agreement of
sorts also seems to exist between the two traditional rivals in the Shan
State opium trade. Lo Hsing-han's younger brother, LO HSING-MINH, is based
at Kengtung where he is in charge of lisison with the former '815 War Zone'
led by Lin Ming Xian and Zhang Zhi Ming.
THE BROTHERS PHEUNG KYA-SHIN AND PHEUNG KYA-FU joined the local Kokang army
of the Yangs in the 1960s; fled to China in the mid-1960s when the Burma
Army entered Kokang; contacted by CPB cadres in China in July 1967 and was
promised arms and ammunition. They went to Beijing and entered Kokang from
China on 5 January 1968 as commander of the Kokang People's Liberation
Army, which merged officially with the CPB's army in August of the same
year. They led the army and the civilian administration in Kokang although
he never joined the party. The Pheung brothers established the first heroin
refinery in Kokang in the mid-1970s, which prompted the Chinese to approach
the CPB's then chairman, Thakin Ba Thein Tin, to ask him to stop their
Pheung Kya-shin was given 400,000 Kyats to close down his refinery. He was
subsequently transferred to the party headquarters at Panghsang, but he
soon set up a new refinery at Wan Ho-tao (NOrthern Kengtung District
headquarters). The Pheungs initiated the mutiny in March 1989. At present,
the two brothers handle about 2 tons of heroin a year. Their refineries are
located in Kokang (S-aw village) and in the Mong Ko area west of the
Salween. Until fighting broke out between his forces and rival opium gangs
in Kokang in late 1992, he used to "commute" between these areas and Lo
Hsing-han's base in Lashio (and the NOrtheastern Command of the Burma
Army). Pheung Kya-shin's close associate Hong Ta-shung smuggled heroin to
Mandalay and across the border to China. He also operated a refinery in the
Mong Ko area and produces 900-1,000 kgs of heroin a year. Most of it was
smuggled to Mandalay and to China.
THE YANGS are the hereditary rulers of Kokang and ruled the area until the
Burma Army moved in during the mid-1960s and put up Lo Hsing-han as their
puppet there. Some Yangs joined the CPB(Communist Party of Burma) in 1968.
Today, the clan is locally led by YANG MU LENG and his brother YAN MU ANG.
They now produce at least 1,800-2,4000 kgs of heroin a year and trade with
Mandalay and China. The Yang clan also emerged as the winners of the
NOv-Dec 1992 "opium war" in Kokang, and now has emerged as the most
powerful durg syndicate in northeastern Burma (see Chapter 5)
LIU GO SHI operates heroin refineries in northeastern Shan State. Liu Go
Shi is the former treasurer of the CPB's NOrthern Bureau at Mong Ko. His
refineries produce 800-1,000 kgs/year. He sells most of his heroin to "big
byers" in Mandalay as well as across the border to China. Liu Go Shi's
refineries are located in the hills between Mong Ko, Mong Ya and Pong Hesng
("Hpaunghsaing" in Burmese) near MOng Ko and at to the east of the old
Northern Bureau headquarters.
HONG LAU SAN was born in Yunnan, but his family migrated to Burma when he
was a child. In 1968, at the age of 13 and virtually uneducated, he was
recreited by the CPB to help take care mules used in the party's transport
units. Hong was later trained as a radio operator by the CPB before
entering the drug trade in the early 1980s. despite his relative youth, he
is now said to be one of the wealthiest men in northeastern Burma. He runs
several heroin refineries in the hills surrounding his base at Mong Ko.
Other heroin traffickers of the same generation include AI KYAW, an officer
of the CPB's former administration in MOng Ko, and LIN NA MIN, a former
political officer of CPB's Northern Bureau.
ZHANG ZHI MING(KYI MYINT), LIN MING XIAN(SAI LIN) and LI ZIRU, all in their
early forties, were born in Yunnan. They were young radicals during the
Cultural Revolution and active in a Yunnan-based Red Guard-style
organisation. While still in their teens, they joined the numerous Chinese
volunteers who fought alongside the CPB in 1968. When most other Chinese
volunteers were recalled to China in the late 1970s, these three chose to
stay on and emerged as some of the ablest fighters in the CPB army. Li
headed the 683 Brigade which operated in the front-line areas west of the
Salween River; Zhang served as commander of the Mong Ko-based 2nd Brigade
and Lin as chief of the '815 War Zone' in eastern Shan State. Zhang
commanded a much-publicised attack on Hsi-Hsinwan mountain in Movember
1986, while LIn led several campaigns in the hills northe of Kengtung. Li
fought for years in the Loi Tsang (Hsin Taung) mojntains west of Mong Kong
and north of the Shan State capital of Taunggyi. All three entered the drug
trade in the mid-1980s, and currently cooperate closely with the Kokang
commanders; Lin is married to Pheung Kya-shin's daughter. They trade with
both Thailand and China, and maintain unofficial trade offices in Kengtung,
Taunggyi and at the Burma Army garrison town of Muse, opposite Ruili in
China. In the official Burmese media, Lin Ming Xian is called "U Sai Lin";
Zhang Zhi MIng is referred to as "U Kyi Myint"; and Li Ziru as "U Liziyu."
The Working People's Daily always refers to them as "leaders of the local
nationals" although all of them are Chinese from Yunnan. On 29 March 1992,
the Working People's Daily even pictured Zhang Zhi Ming and Lin Ming Xian
greeting the then SLORC Chairman, Gen. Saw Maung, at an Armed Forces' Day
reception in Rangoon. In early 1993, Lin Ming Xian was seen in Rangoon
attending a National Convention, aimed at drafting a new constitution for
WEI CHAU-LONG, WEI CHAU-KANG and WEI CHAU-YIN are three brothers who were
born in Yunnan, China. They fled to Burma after the communist takeover in
China and set up base at Vingngun (southern Wa Hills). From there, they
traded with Khun Sa who at that time was a KKY commander based in Tang-yan.
The Wei brothers moved their operation to the Thai border when the CPB took
over the Wa Hills in the early 1970s. Wei Chau-kang became Khun Sa's
treasurer, based at Ban Hin Taek. Later, he fell out with Khun Sa and was
put in jail near Ban Hin Taek. By bribing one of his guards (unknown, but
Khun Sa had a number of soldiers executed after the incident), he managed
to escape, and took refuge in Taiwan (1982-83).
Meanwhile, the other two Wei brothers, lacking their own armed forces
inside Burma, used their old Wa Contacts and built up the Wa National Army
(led by AI CHAU HSO and PA BO KANG HSO). However, following the CPB mutiny
and the establishment of the UWSA (a merger of the Thai-border based Was
and the Wa component of the former CPB army), the eldest brother, WEI
CHAU-LONG, went to Panghsang in early 1992 to mend fences with the new Wa
leaders. He brought with him a "gift" of 40 million Thai Baht (US$1.6
million). He was able to establish a rapport with the leader of the Wa
component of teh ex-CPB forces and to establish new refineries along the
Yunnan frontier. As a result of the CPB mutiny and the merger of the
non-communist and ex-communist Wa forces, the WEI brothers may now be in
charge of the most heavily armed drug trafficking organisation in Burma.
With the collapse of the CPB as an anti-government forces, smaller allied
armies which had depended on the communists for arms and ammunition, also
broke up. In September 1989, about 2,000 troops from the Shan State Army
(SSA), led by Hso Hten, struck a similar deal with Rangoon. This agreement
was followed in January 1991 by the defection of Mahtu Naw, a local Kachin
Independence Army (KIA) commander from the Kachin-inhabited hills of
northeastern Shan State, adjacent to the former CPB territory near the
Salween River. Although Mahtu Naw did not have more than a few hundred men
under his command, his defection shattered the battle-hardened and well
organised KIA, which until then had been the only ethnic insurgent army in
the area that had not suffered any splits or internal divisions.
Significantly, Mahtu Naw entered heroin trade shortly after his alliance
with the government: prior to his defection, the KIA's 4th Brigade's
involvement had been confined to tax collection on opium growers and
merchants in thier area. Mahtu Naw now is establishing his own refinery
near Kutkai in collusion with the 99th Light INfantry Division of the
Burmese Army, and Wa chieftain Pao Yo-chang.
PP-33, IOCPS Occassional Paper No.33 August 1993.
/* Endreport */