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BURMANET: Weak Sanctions Mean More
- Subject: BURMANET: Weak Sanctions Mean More
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 27 Jul 1996 09:06:00
Subject: BURMANET: Weak Sanctions Mean More W
/* Written 7:40 AM Jul 26, 1996 by strider in igc:soc.cult.burma */
/* ---------- "BURMANET: Weak Sanctions Mean More" ---------- */
BURMANET: Weak sanctions mean activists must focus on one company at a time--
California's Wente Vineyards a likely next target.
July 26, 1996
As you may know by now, the Senate adopted a weakened version of the
sanctions bill. Rather than prohibiting investment by U.S. firms, the
bill directs that only in the event of increased repression will
investement be prohibited. Although repression from that regime is
almost ineveitable, activists don't need to wait. It is possible to
force most U.S. companies out by pressure on the companies or on state
and local governments to adopt selective purchasing policies.
One easy target for a campaign should be an obscure California
winery--Wente Vineyards. Wente's importance would be minimal were it
not for their business partner: Asia World Company. Asia World is the
corporate face of Burma's most important heroin kingpin--Lo Hsing-Han.
One weak spot in the Burmese economy is that access by foreign
investors is through local influential people. The most influential
people in Burma today--aside from the Generals--are the
narco-businessmen. People like Lo Hsing-Han, Khun Sa and Lin Minxian.
To date, the activist campaign has not focused clearly enough on the
links between heroin money and Burma's economy. Wente is a near
perfect illustration of how that link works. The following articles
detail Wente's involvement with Lo Hsing-Han's company and the colorful
history of Burma's richest businessman.
BURMANET: WENTE VINEYARDS IN TIE UP WITH BURMESE COMPANY
BETTER KNOWN FOR HEROIN AND FORCED LABOR
SUMMARY: An American winery has entered into a distribution agreement
with a man better known for his heroin connections. Wente Vineyards, a
California winery is now doing business in Burma through Asia World
Company Limited, controlled by Steven Law. Asia World is also
developing at least one property using forced labor.
Heroin Trafficking and Money Laundering Mr. Law (aka Steven Lo, aka Htun
Myint Naing) is the son of Lo Hsing Han, one of the world's wealthiest
and most powerful drug warlords. Mr. Law and his brothers are believed
by Thai and Western counter narcotics agents to still be active in their
father's narcotics empire. See ONCB: Memo on Lo Hsing Han. The family
is now "going legitimate," investing it's money in Burmese hotels and
other projects. Their agreement with Wente Vineyards is part of that
effort to turn bad money into good. The articles attached to this
summary detail Mr. Law's involvement with Wente Vineyards and his
family's colorful, long-running history at the very top of the heroin
Forced Labor In addition to Asia World Company's heroin connection, it
is developing at least one project which directly uses forced labor.
Asia World's self-published company profile refers to a processing plant
they are building on a 45 acre industrial zone in Hlaing Thayer (across
the river from Rangoon), which is "naturally AWC's property land to be
developed." (AWC Company Profile, page 6). The industrial park at Hlaing
Thayer is now being built with what the Burmese regime euphamistically
calls "voluntary labor." The United Nations, the United States, Amnesty
International and a number of other groups call it forced labor. There
is no evidence that Wente Vineyards is directly involved with forced
labor, but their business partner in Burma clearly is.
Wente Vineyards can be contacted in Livermore, CA at 510-447-3606 or
510-528-0665. Their Vice President in charge of international marketing
is Mr. John Schwartz.
Articles Excerpted or Reprinted in Full:
PR Newswire: Wente Vineyards Travels Road to Burma, February 8, 1996.
Office of Narcotics Control Board (Thailand): Memo Regarding Lo Hsing Han.
Jane's Intelligence Review: The Volatile Yunnan Frontier, February 1,
1994, Bertil Lintner.
The Guardian (London): The Warlords, June 17 1993.
The Economist, A border lined with gold, April 6, 1991.
The Washington Post:As Burmese Opium Production Rises, U.S. Debates
Resuming Anti-Drug Aid, November 5, 1990, William Branigin, Washington
Post Foreign Service.
Times (London): Burmese groom new warlord to run drug trade, July 1,
1990, Jon Swain, Far East Correspondent.
The Washington Quarterly: Narcotics in the Golden Triangle, 1985 Fall
Jon A. Wiant, Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department
Xinhua: Singaporean firm to build office complex in Myanmar, March 6, 1996.
Copyright 1996 PR Newswire Association, Inc.
February 8, 1996, Thursday
SECTION: Financial News
DISTRIBUTION: TO BUSINESS AND FOOD EDITORS
LENGTH: 655 words
HEADLINE: WENTE VINEYARDS TRAVELS ROAD TO BURMA
Contact 510 447 3603, VP Intl Marketing
Director of PR, John Wooly
Making its second international trade announcement in as many days, Wente
Vineyards today said it has set up a distribution network in Myanmar, formerly
known as Burma. The move, which is part of a larger Southeast Asia
marketing campaign, comes on the heels of an earlier announcement when the
vintner set up shop in nearby Cambodia.
"For years, we concentrated on North Asia, places like Japan, South Korea,
Taiwan, and Hong Kong because they were established markets," said John
Schwartz, vice president of international operations of Wente Vineyards. "Since
then, we've established our own distribution agreements with partners who can
handle the obstacles of these new, emerging markets and still make income."
LIVERMORE, Calif., Feb. 8
Assisting Wente in its latest effort is Asia World Company Limited. The
Yangon (formerly Rangoon)-based trading company boasts widespread business
activities in the areas of import-export, real estate development, industrial
development, and food and beverage distribution.
"Our Thai importer, which owns the famous Floating Hotel in Myanmar, was
already moving some of our product there. So they helped us gather information
on who the other major players were, which led us to Asia World and the decision
to work on a direct basis," Schwartz said.
As America's premier wine exporter, Wente has consistently beaten competitors
to the punch, currently selling product in 104 countries. The winery was the
first to crack the Eastern European market, opening an office in Moscow in 1989.
Wente was the first U.S. winemaker to enter Vietnam after the lifting of the
19-year trade embargo in 1994. Not surprisingly, Wente is an aggressive overseas
marketer, regularly staging American Food & Wine Festivals and constantly
seeking export distribution opportunities.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one of the largest nations in Southeast
Asia. Located on the edge of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, it borders
Thailand to the west, India to the east and China to the north. Although
economically isolated for a number of years, Myanmar's leaders have more
recently taken great pains to attract foreign business and investment. It is
under these new conditions that Wente opted to try its hand in the marketplace.
As elsewhere in the region, the winemaker will undertake a carefully crafted
sales effort tailor made for the new market. While focusing on the local
population, Wente will also service the large number of expatriates working
there. Marketing efforts will include special language billboards and novelty
t-shirts. In addition, Wente will continue its long-standing practice of
high-profile food fairs featuring California cuisine and Wente wines.
Asia World Company Limited is a group of well-established local companies
including Kokange Export/Import Co., Ltd., controlled by Mr. Steven Law; Myat
Mon Yadana Co., Ltd., headed by U Kyin Htun; Golden Mountain Co., Ltd.,
controlled by U Than Mynit; and Asia Light Company Limited, which operates local
supermarkets and distributes well-known wine and spirits brands in Yangon (40%)
and upper Myanmar (60%). Before consolidating in 1992, each company conducted
business operations such as bean and grain trading, as well as timber and palm
Wente Vineyards is one of California's most prestigious wineries, based in a
rural setting in northern California's Livermore Valley. The winery exports 45%
of its production to 104 countries around the world. Wente's export portfolio
consists of Wente Vineyards, Murrieta's Well, Ficklin Vineyards, Sergio
Traverso, Ivan Tamas, Concannon Vineyard, Sokol Blosser Oregon Winery, and St.
Stan's Beer, a California microbrew. CONTACT: John Schwartz of Wente
Vineyards, 510-447-3606; or Paige Poulos of Paige Poulos Communications,
800-497-3376 or 510-528-0665, for Wente Vineyards
STATE: CALIFORNIA, USA;
LOAD-DATE: February 9, 1996
note: ONCB=Office of Narcotics Control Board (a part of the Royal Thai Police)
ONCB: MEMO REGARDING LO HSING HAN
FROM: WEEKOON NITHIMATRAKUL, ONCB [OFFICE OF NARCOTICS CONTROL
FAMILY NAME: LO
NAME: HSING HAN
ADDRESS: SHAN STATE, BURMA
PROFESSION: JEWELRY TRADER
CRIMINAL RECORD: 1973 ARRESTED BY THAI GOVERNMENT FOR THE CHARGE
OF TREASON TO BURMESE GOVERNMENT. RECEIVED EXECUTION PUNISHMENT
BY THE BURMESE GOVERNMENT BUT RELEASED IN JUNE 19080 BY AMNESTY.
PERSONS INVOLVED: -BRIG. GEN KIN YUNT, THE SUPPORTER
-LO HSING MIN, THE YOUNGER BROTHER AND CO-WORKER
SUMMARY INVOLVEMENT: DRUG TRAFFICKER IN GOLDEN TRIANGLE.
HELPED BURMESE GOVERNMENT IN FIGHTING WITH COMMUNIST PARTY OF
BURMA. IN 1973, REFUSED TO DISBAND HIS OWN FORCE ASKED BY BURMESE
GOVERNMENT AND DECLARED TO BE THE ENEMY. THEN JOINED OTHER
GROUPS ESTABLISHED AN INDEPENDENT GOVERNMENT. JAN, 1987. SEND
HIS SON FROM TONGYI, BURMA TO CONTACT GEN. LEE IN CHIENGMAI TO
NEGOTIATE CEASED FIRE BETWEEN WA AND KHUN SA. FEB, 1993
RECEIVED PRIVILEGE FROM BRIG. GEN. KIN YUNT. TO SMUGGLE HEROIN
FROM KOKANG GROUP TO TACHELEK WITHOUT INTERCEPTION.
(copy on file with the Director, Narcotics Law Enforcement Div. ONCB
Fax 662 2468526)
Copyright 1994 Jane's Information Group Limited,
All Rights Reserved
Jane's Intelligence Review
February 1, 1994
SECTION: Vol. 6; No. 2; Pg. 84
LENGTH: 5576 words
HEADLINE: The Volatile Yunnan Frontier
BYLINE: Bertil Lintner
The Mutiny and Heroin Explosion
...With such well-respected local community leaders out of the way,
an ethnic Chinese gangster syndicate led by Lo Hsing-han and his
younger brother Lo Hsing-minh, two notorious heroin dealers from
Lashio who had been called in by the SLORC to contact the CPB
mutineers immediately after the initial rising in Kokang in March
1989, started to built up their business. They did this in collusion
with the Pheung brothers, Lin Mingxian and Zhang Zhiming and other
former military commanders of the communist army. The Lo brothers
were also Kokang Chinese although they had remained on the
government's side, and they took over the former CPB and turned it
into the most heavily-armed drug trafficking organisation in
Southeast Asia. It outnumbered and outgunned even Khun Sa, hitherto
the most powerful heroin warlord in Burma. The former overlord of the
'Golden Triangle' heroin trade was being cut out as new refineries
were established closer to the main growing areas along the Yunnan
frontier by new gangs of traffickers allied with former CPB forces.
The area under opium cultivation in northeastern Burma also
increased from 92300 ha in 1987 to 142742 ha in 1989 and 161012 ha in
1991. Opium and heroin flowed openly down the highways of Burma,
pouring across the country's borders in all directions - northeast to
China, east to Laos, south to Thailand and northwest to India. The
official Burmese media likes to publicise seizures of narcotics but
this is considered part of a public relations exercise to improve the
regime's abysmal international image. In reality, seizures are
negligible, and Lo hsing-han and all other major drug traffickers in
Burma remain closely connected with the ruling military.
...In Burma, the ex-CPB drug traffickers live
openly in towns and cities, and the overall heroin 'Godfather', Lo
Hsing-han, can be seen at the army golf course in Rangoon almost
every weekend. Heroin profits are being reinvested in legitimate
businesses and commodities - real estate, luxury cars, restaurants,
hotels, shops and small-scale factories - primarily in the northern
city of Mandalay, the new hub of the drug trafficking in Burma.
The increased role of narcotics money in the local economy of both
Burma and Yunnan is only one element of grave concern to observers of
the political situation in Southeast Asia. The other is that while
the ceasefires with Rangoon may have established a truce between the
central government and most insurgents in the country, the underlying
political and ethnic issues which caused the insurgencies in the
first place have not been addressed: the accords amount to mere
business agreements. Gangsterism and organised crime have reached
into Burmese and Yunnanese societies in a way which is unprecedented.
The situation has become so serious that both Burma and Yunnan risk
becoming like Pakistan or some of the drug producing countries in
Latin America where drug mafias are able to manipulate entire
In addition, there are still tens of thousands of people with guns
in northern Burma. Friction between the SLORC and the Was in
particular have surfaced recently, emphasising how fragile these
agreements are. The Was complain that very little of the development
aid they were promised in 1989 has reached them, and their demands
for a separate Wa State within the Union of Burma have been ignored.
In mid-1993, the situation was so tense that the central government,
for the first time in four years, had to move several thousand fresh
troops to the northeast. In the end, no hostilities broke out but the
situation remains volatile. Thus, despite the ceasefires, the
interrelated issues of drugs, insurgency and counter-insurgency have
become potentially even more threatening to the stability of the
entire region than they have been at any stage in Burma's modern
history. Because of the explosion in the drug trade, the problem is
also no longer confined to Burma.
Bertil Lintner is a freelance journalist working in Bangkok.
Guardian Newspapers Limited
The Guardian (London)
June 17, 1993
SECTION: THE GUARDIAN FEATURES PAGE; Pg. 3
LENGTH: 827 words
HEADLINE: PASS NOTES;
No 177: The warlords
Names: Mohamed Farah Aidid, (Somalia, pictured right), Ghulam Nabi Noorzai
(Afghanistan), General Hersi Morgan (Somalia), Radovan Karadzic (Bosnian Serb),
Paulus Vezi (South Africa), General Dudayev (Chechenia), Jaba Ioseliani
(Georgia), Bashir Gemayel (Beirut), Ali Dimaporo (Philippines), Lo Hsing-han
(Burma), Walid Jumblatt (Beirut, Druze).
Age: Whatever they say.
Who were the original warlords? The powerful independent military commanders
who ruled most of China between 1859-1916.
What exactly do warlords do? Use women and children as human shields, take
hostages for use as bargaining counters, sign peace agreements and then break
them, create internecine strife.
And in their spare time? Thomas Tshabalala, Inkatha chieftan, listens to
jazz on CDs.
That Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a warlord and a half: According to General
Abdul Rashid Dostam, no mean warlord himself, he once "got two Uzbeks and sliced
out their noses and eyes and threw them to the lions in the Kabul zoo."
Essential warlord accessories: Puppet radio station, bodyguards, lair, fiery
temper, facial hair (General Dudayev's clipped moustache is said to be modelled
on wings of nuclear bomber).
Warlords hate: Helicopter gunships, the UN, white doves.
When is a warlord not a warlord? When he's pro-Western.
Has there ever been a British warlord? The former commander of Britain's
troops in Bosnia, Colonel Bob Stewart, has been described as a "UN Warlord".
What's a warlord's wife called? A battleaxe, according to Colonel Bob's
Is it tough being a battleaxe? Tougher being a warlord's son. Tony Franjieh,
son of the Beirut warlord Suleiman Franjieh, was killed with 30 family retainers
because a rival feared he was being groomed for succession.
Like father like son? Not necessarily, Aidid's Hussan Farah, served with the
US marines in Somalia.
Warlord qualifications: Jaba Ioseliani was a professor, Radovan Karadzic was
Not to be confused with: The highly successful J39 class yacht, the
Almighty, a London cricket ground.
Do say: Let slip the Dogs of War.
Don't say: War, what is it good for?
Least likely to say: Make love not war.
LOAD-DATE: June 17, 1993
Copyright 1991 The Economist Newspaper Ltd.
April 6, 1991
SECTION: World politics and current affairs; ASIA; Pg. 31 (U.K. Edition Pg. 55)
LENGTH: 1147 words
HEADLINE: A border lined with gold
BYLINE: FROM OUR SOUTH-EAST ASIA CORRESPONDENT
ALONG Thailand's border with Myanmar, as Burma now insists on calling itself,
the dry season is a time for fighting. Each year the government of Myanmar
launches attacks on border tribes that oppose it. To the north the opium
warlords slug it out for control of the mule trails along which the year's
harvest is exported. After so much practice, the fighting has tended to become
a ritual: a patch of jungle is mortared, a village burnt down, then everyone
gets on with business -- smuggling.
...Now to the north and the drug warlords. On March 24th a gang that calls
itself the United Wa State Army ambushed and killed 29 members of the Muang Thai
Army, led by the infamous Chang Chi-fu, otherwise known as Khun Sa. In the
subsequent fighting a mortar shell landed in Thaton, a Thai village, killing
three Thais and giving the Thai army an excuse to send in its aircraft and
helicopter gunships. After five days of strafing, the two gangs agreed to move
at least two miles, about three kilometres, into Myanmar, where this week they
were still fighting.
This is the latest in a number of reverses for Khun Sa. His liking for
publicity embarrassed even the Thais -- he once tried to hire Henry Kissinger to
persuade the American government to buy a year's opium crop from him. The Thais
got him to abandon his hilltop stronghold of Ban Hin Taek, complete with
swimming-pool, near Mae Suai, comfortably inside Thailand. He moved across the
border into Myanmar in 1982. Khun Sa remained a frequent visitor to Thailand
until December 1989, when he was indicted by a New York grand jury for his role
in smuggling a consignment of more than 1,000 kilos (2,200 lb) of heroin into
America. Since then he has been forced to stay in hiding.
Khun Sa can take some comfort that the Thai government does not seem to be
displaying a new-found zeal to crack down on the heroin trade: the attacks by
Thai aircraft have merely provided bored pilots with some shooting practice.
Corruption and weak laws make it nearly impossible to curb the flow of drugs
through Thailand; not that anyone is trying too hard. Sherman Funk, the
American State Department's inspector-general, has even criticised the American
embassy in Bangkok for its lackadaisical attitude.
Much of the day-to-day business along the border is controlled by the
Rangers, a Thai paramilitary outfit distinguished by its Vietcong-style pyjamas
and sky-blue neckerchiefs. "The only way they would help an old lady across the
street is by setting fire to her skirt," is the best that one diplomat can find
to say of the Rangers, who seem to do pretty much as they please.
The good news is that, despite official inertia or collusion, there are signs
that Thailand is moving out of the drug business. Opium is easy to grow, but
not very profitable for its farmers. It has been largely replaced in the hills
of northern Thailand by more lucrative crops, particularly tourists. It was bad
enough that some Thais were killed in Thaton; even worse that such incidents
harm tourism. The village is the starting-point for rides down the Kok river.
But Khun Sa has more to worry about than being edged out of his patch by
package tourists. His most serious rival, Lo Hsing-han, who was named by the
American government as "the kingpin of the heroin trade" in 1972, is back in the
business after a difficult patch, and is said to be getting help from the
Mr Lo is based in the northern Myanmar town of Lashio, where he is said to be
protected by army bodyguards. His main area of influence is along the border
with China's Yunnan province, where most of the opium is grown. The farmers may
not profit greatly, but the heroin kitchens turn opium paste into expensive
Number 4 heroin (90% pure). The heroin starts its long journey to the outside
world along the old Burma road, which was built from Lashio to Kunming to take
arms to Chiang Kai Shek's troops during China's war against the Japanese.
Last year 1.45 tonnes of heroin was seized in Yunnan. This was five times as
much as was seized the previous year, but was still assumed to be only a
fraction of the heroin passing through the province. More than half the heroin
reaching Hong Kong is now believed to arrive overland rather than via Thailand,
the traditional route.
The outlook for Mr Lo's business is good. The Myanmar government is no
longer limiting the size of the crop, which at 2,000 tonnes a year is double
that of the mid-1980s. Some believe that the Hong Kong-based triad gangs, who
distribute the heroin in America, have captured 80% of that market. As for Khun
Sa, the Myanmar junta is said to be thinking of handing him over to the
Americans. Everything along the golden border has its price: drugs, teak,
smuggled goods. Surely, it is reasoned, Kung Sa should be worth something, even
it is only a nod of approval from Washington?
Copyright 1990 The Washington Post
The Washington Post
November 5, 1990, Monday, Final Edition
SECTION: FIRST SECTION; PAGE A17
LENGTH: 1111 words
HEADLINE: As Burmese Opium Production Rises, U.S. Debates Resuming Anti-Drug Aid
BYLINE: William Branigin, Washington Post Foreign Service
DATELINE: YANGON, Myanmar
When Lo Hsing-han visits the Burmese capital these days from his home in the
country's far north, he is fond of indulging a passion for golf. This might not
seem unusual for a wealthy, 56-year-old ethnic Chinese, except that he has been
publicly identified as one of Southeast Asia's leading heroin traffickers, and
some of his partners on the links are top Burmese military officers, according
to informed sources here.
The Burmese military's chumminess with known drug kingpins like Lo Hsing-han
has raised questions about its stated commitment to fighting the illegal
Some sources who monitor the issue view drug corruption as a problem among
individual officers, rather than the institution as a whole. But what is not in
dispute is that production of opium, the raw material for heroin, has increased
dramatically in Myanmar, whose government last year changed the country's name
from Burma. Myanmar is by far the world's biggest source of the drug.
The increase has been especially steep since the United States halted
anti-narcotics aid to Myanmar in 1988 after the ruling military junta cracked
down on a movement demanding democracy. The United States estimated Burmese
opium production in 1988 at 1,280 tons, but by one U.S. estimate, the country
produced more than twice that amount last year.
The Burmese government's effectiveness, or lack of it, in combating drug
trafficking is at the center of a debate in Washington over whether, and under
what conditions, the United States should resume its anti-narcotics assistance
program here, which cost more than $ 80 million between 1974 and 1988. But the
issue is inextricably bound up with human rights concerns and with an assortment
of ethnic insurgencies, some mounted by what are essentially drug-running gangs
masquerading as separatist rebels.
Complicating the problem, analysts here said, is that increasing quantities
of Burmese heroin are being smuggled out through China en route to Asian and
Western markets, bypassing traditional routes through the Golden Triangle, the
opium-producing area that spans parts of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.
The sources cite what they say are reliable reports that officers of the
Burmese army's Northeastern Command based in Lashio are implicated in the trade,
and that Burmese customs officials on the Chinese border are instructed not to
inspect certain trucks leaving the country.
There are conflicting reports, however, about whether authorities on the
Chinese side also are involved in the trafficking. According to some Western
analysts, the Chinese government has shown intense concern about the drug
problem, but others assert that authorities in Yunnan Province, which borders
Myanmar, have turned a blind eye to it on the understanding that the drugs would
not be sold in China.
According to knowledgeable sources, some officials of the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) favor resuming the Burmese aid program as the
best way to fight the growing heroin trade and gather information about
traffickers. However, the State Department has raised objections on human rights
grounds, and the General Accounting Office has criticized the aid program as
"The DEA wants to unlink human rights and narcotics," said one informed
source. "The DEA wants to stop the heroin trade and [feels that] to do that, you
have to deal with the Burmese army. And the State Department says that's like
dealing with Hitler."
A dispute also has arisen over the volume of opium production in Myanmar,
with the CIA estimating it at 2,600 tons last year and the DEA putting the
figure closer to 1,600 tons, sources said. But even the lower figure represents
a record crop -- more than a six-fold increase over the 260 tons produced in
Myanmar in 1976.
According to a report last year by the General Accounting Office, the Burmese
government has used U.S. anti-narcotics aid ineffectively and refused to allow
adequate U.S. monitoring of the program. In Myanmar, "corruption facilitates
illicit trafficking and makes effective action against narcotics difficult to
sustain," the report said. It alluded to "narcotics-related corruption among
government and military officials," but provided no details.
In a September 1989 U.S. congressional hearing, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan
(D-N.Y.) likened the Myanmar of reclusive strongman Ne Win to Panama under its
former military ruler, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. "Ne Win is nothing more than
an Asian Noriega," Moynihan testified. "His army has for years protected the
operations of Khun Sa, the notorious opium warlord of the Golden Triangle.
Burmese army defectors tell of officers moving heroin down [Myanmar's] roads and
diverting U.S.-provided helicopters for counterinsurgency campaigns."
Under the anti-narcotics program, the United States has supplied Myanmar with
28 helicopters, six transport planes and five Thrush aerial spray aircraft, the
GAO noted. Informed sources in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, say there have been
"credible" reports that the military has used the helicopters in
counterinsurgency operations against rebels of the Karen ethnic minority, who
have been fighting the Burmese central government since 1948 but have not been
linked with drug trafficking.
During the 1980s, the Burmese Communist Party -- the largest insurgent
organization, with an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 guerrillas -- succeeded in
taking over a major part of the lucrative opium trade to compensate for
dwindling support from China. But the party virtually disintegrated in April
1989 following a mutiny by members of the Wa hill tribe who made up the bulk of
the guerrilla force.
Using Lo Hsing-han as an intermediary, top military officials promptly forged
friendly relations with leaders of the Wa, who continue to engage in drug
trafficking, informed sources said. Lo Hsing-han, who began his trafficking
career as a progovernment militia commander, was publicly identified by a U.S.
official in 1972 as Southeast Asia's "opium king." He was jailed on rebellion
charges in Myanmar from 1973 to 1980, but has since reemerged as a major drug
kingpin, according to anti-narcotics sources in the region.
Capitalizing on Lo Hsing-han's introductions, the army since early this year
has been using the Wa to fight the ethnic Shan rebels of opium warlord Khun Sa,
a former ally of the Burmese military who was seen as having grown too powerful.
He was indicted last year in New York on heroin-trafficking charges, but remains
at large in the Golden Triangle. Moynihan has publicly described the junta's new
alliance with the Wa as merely a "change in business partners."
Copyright 1990 Times Newspapers Limited (Times of London)
The Sunday Times, July 1, 1990, Sunday
HEADLINE: Burmese groom new warlord to run drug trade
BYLINE: by Jon Swain, Far East Correspondent
THE notorious Golden Triangle, the source of most of the world's heroin, is a
murky world of intrigue, double-cross and violent death. None of that seemed in
evidence last week in a sleepy suburb of Lashio, a picturesque town in northeast
Burma, where a man was quietly tending his roses.
Appearances can be deceptive. The peaceful gardener was Lo Hsing-han, the
biggest heroin trafficker in the world until his arrest 17 years ago.
Now there is evidence that this moon-faced man of 54 is again a key player in
the multi-million-pound heroin trade from the Golden Triangle, the wild
mountainous region straddling the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand.
This is the source of most of the world's illicit opium, 2,400 tonnes this
year, which is refined into heroin in jungle laboratories and smuggled abroad,
mainly to America. All but a few dozen tonnes come from Burma. The rest is from
the Laotian and Thai parts of the triangle.
Lo has established strong ties with the Burmese military and is often in
Rangoon playing golf with high-ranking army officers, who provide him with a
permanent bodygard as protection from rivals. Western narcotics agents fear that
the corrupt military is grooming Lo as a possible successor to Khun Sa, the
Golden Triangle's dominant drug warlord who has increasingly become a liability
because of his power, influence and notoriety.
Lo's rise to a position of power in the drug trade after several years in the
wilderness is one of the more bizarre episodes in the turbulent history of the
Golden Triangle. At the height of his career Lo was better known than Khun Sa as
a drug trafficker. He built up his empire through a mixture of cunning and
ruthlessness, tempered by an acute business sense. For a while he was the
Burmese government's main ally in the lawless Shan states, where it was
struggling to quell communist insurgents and a multitude of tribal rebellions.
Lo had commanded a private army in northern Burma. But he fell foul of the
Rangoon regime and in 1973 was arrested in Thailand, repatriated to Burma, and
sentenced to death for treason and drug trafficking. He escaped the gallows
under an amnesty a few years later and has been a free man since 1980.
It has taken him several years to recover his influence and re-establish his
network. But soon he may be even more powerful than he was in 1972, when he was
labelled by a senior American narcotics adviser the ''opium king'' of southeast
In contrast, Khun Sa, his old rival, is looking increasingly vulnerable. His
forces in their jungle enclaves along the Thai-Burmese border are being
challenged by stocky Wa tribesmen who want to gain control of his lucrative drug
smuggling routes. And both the Burmese and Thai governments seem to have decided
to sacrifice him in order to placate the United States.
The military used Lo as an intermediary to persuade the Wa to rally to the
government cause and fight Khun Sa. Capturing Khun Sa and handing him over to
the Americans would help Burma break out of its international isolation, in
force since its massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Rangoon two years
For years the United States turned a blind eye to official narcotics
corruption in southeast Asia, out of concern for its strategic interests. Khun
Sa's drug dealing was tolerated because he allowed his private army to act as a
buffer against communist rebels in northern Burma.
But a huge amount of southeast Asian heroin is flowing into America, and
under President George Bush drug traffickers have replaced communists as the
number one menace. The result is that both Thailand and Burma have been singled
out for sharp criticism by Washington for their pervasive narcotics corruption.
Both Khun Sa and a Thai police general have been indicted by grand juries for
drug trafficking. During his recent visit to the United States, Chatichai
Choonhavan, the Thai prime minister, was left in no doubt that Washington
expected to see his government crack down on heroin.
Never before have conditions been so favourable for Khun Sa's demise. But the
57-year-old warlord has escaped from tight spots before and he may yet survive
this latest opium war. He has been reported on a number of occasions in the past
as having died.
Traditionally, Khun Sa handles 70% of all heroin flowing out of the Golden
Triangle. His private army provides protection for the mule caravans carrying
the raw opium down from the hills, where it has been harvested from the poppies
grown by the hill tribes.
At the Thai border Khun Sa operates half a dozen heroin refineries and
smuggles the drug out of Burma through Thailand by air and sea. Eighty per cent
of all the heroin flowing into New York originates from Khun Sa's refineries. If
he loses the power struggle and is arrested there will be only one victor Lo
USG: BURMA OPIUM CULTIVATION & HEROIN PRODUCTION
Source: US State Department, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Opium Cultivations [hectares]: 116,700 161,012
Heroin Production [metric tons]: 68 180
Heroin Exports [metric tones]: 66 175.36
Heroin Seizures [mt]: 0.09 0.14
Seizures as % of production: 0.13% 0.08%
Copyright 1985 The Center for Strategic and International
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Washington Quarterly
SECTION: HIGH POLITICS: DRUGS ACROSS BORDERS; Vol. 8, No. 4; Pg. 125
LENGTH: 8562 words
HEADLINE: Narcotics in the Golden Triangle
BYLINE: Jon A. Wiant
- Jon A. Wiant is with the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S.
Department of State.
...During the summer of 1980 Rangoon began secret negotiations with the BCP,
which had been encouraged by the Chinese to arrive at some accommodation with
the Burmese government. In July 1981, Burmese President Ne Win announced the
failure of these talks. Collapse of the negotiations undercut Rangoon's efforts
to bring some sense of normalcy to the northern Shan plateau. Had Ne Win been
successful, he would then have been able to concentrate his efforts against the
other Shan state insurgencies and warlord groups. Since the failed negotiations
the BCP has resumed military action, albeit not on the scale of the late 1970s.
It has also sought to expand its tie with other insurgent and narcotics
Warlord Organizations: Warlord organizations are an artifact of the
historical development of the Golden Triangle and have probably existed in the
northern and eastern Shan State since the eighteenth century. Led by ethnic
Chinese -- Han or Yunnanese -- or Sino-Shan, they have sought to control trade
between "kingdoms" and have built armed organizations to protect their caravans
and operational bases. Most established alliances with the local Shan leaders...
In 1967, confronted with a Chinese-backed Burmese Communist insurgency,
Rangoon deputized 50 of these warlord armies as mobile militias. Called Ka Kwei
Yei (KKY), they were given patents by the central government to engage in
smuggling, including opium, in return for their commitment to fight Burmese
Communist insurgents. In 1971-1973, Rangoon outlawed the KKY. Some returned to
the government fold, while others moved deeply into narcotics trafficking, a
thriving industry as the war escalated in Vietnam.
The principal warlord organizations today are...
...The Lo Hsing Han Organization. Lo's KoKang KKY was a major power in the
Golden Triangle from 1967, when Royal Lao Government generals lost a major
battle for control of opium, until 1973 when he was captured by the Thai and
extradicted to Burma. During this period Lo was loosely allied with Jimmy Yang,
former Sawbwa of KoKang, and his New Shan State Army. His younger brother, Lo
Hsing Min, attempted to fashion the remnants of the Lo Organization into the
Shan State Revolutionary Army, but without Lo's leadership it remained a
second-rate trafficking organization dependent on alliances with other groups.
In June 1980, President Ne Win released Lo from jail, and the SSRA came back to
Burma under a general amnesty order. Since then Lo has reformed his group as
the Shan State Volunteer Force to fight the BCP. Should support from Rangoon be
inadequate to maintain his force, he could return to the opium business. He is
the one leader probably capable of challenging Chang Chifu.
All of these groups have at one time or another allied themselves with Shan
ethnic insurgents. While the warlord groups have formidable military force
their activities are more economic than political, despite the names chosen for
[deleted to end]
Xinhua: Singaporean firm to build office complex in Myanmar
March 6, 1996
DATELINE: yangon, march 6; ITEM NO: 0306056
kuok singapore ltd which belongs to the shangrila hotel group will build a
world-class office complex in yangon, according to the new light of myanmar
today. under the memorandum of understanding signed here tuesday between the
quartermaster-general's office of the myanmar ministry of defense and kuok
singapore ltd, the latter will build a world-class twin tower designed office
complex here with an investment of 130 to 150 million us dollars. there are 10
singaporean hotels being projected in myanmar with an investment of 481.2
million dollars as of november 1995, according to the latest official
LOAD-DATE: March 6, 1996