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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.
BY MATTHEW PENNINGTON
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
"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
"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)