ON THE TRAIL OF A MULE - A Drug Run Through The Golden Triangle.

ianyonok

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Dec 9, 2008
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I have just seen the same article as above in the Chiang Rai Times; http://www.chiangraitimes.com/news/11060.html but including a few of photos.

I think this part is interesting regarding the future;

The 2012 ”Shan Drug Watch” report states that despite Myanmar government reforms, the country’s opium production has surged in the last year, poppy cultivation was reported in 49 out of 55 townships in Shan State.
The report noted that many of the People’s Militia Forces (PMF), set up by the Myanmar army, have spawned many of the ”key players in the drug trade, both heroin and ATS [amphetamine type stimulants]”.
"49 out of 55 townships". This is not surprising I suppose, with an apparent easing of restrictions by the military and minimal goverment support for alternative means of income.
The word I have is that opium growing is returning in the Thoed Thai to Hua Mae Kham border areas of Thailand as well.

It certainly isn't over yet...
 

Rod Page

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Jan 7, 2010
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Something to ponder from Professor Alf Mc Coy, made recently in considering Asian opium production, whilst exploring the magical Golden Triangle, following upon Ian's comments on reported increases in opium production in Myanmar & suggestions of renewed production in the Thoed Thai/Hua Mae Kham areas:

- "It is my feeling that the drug war is becoming increasingly irrational in the face of changes in the global opiates market ... we can look forward to at least a doubling of world supply within the decade, maybe within five years, and a sustained increase of those proportions for the foreseeable future. This increase in supply is going to make a mockery of the drug war that we're now fighting."

- There is a belief that with more resources, more interdiction and more efforts to track down the 'Mr Bigs' of drug trafficking we will eventually reduce their supply. The demise of Khun Sa is a salutary reminder - he had more power over the trade than any other person ever had and yet, when he fell from power, his fall was of no consequence whatsoever to the drug trade. It continued as it did before his fall. So, if bringing down the biggest of the 'Mr Bigs' makes no difference, how can the drug war ever succeed?
 

ianyonok

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Dec 9, 2008
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Seems to be little doubt that opium supply is increasing at present. This article indicates a doubling in output in 6 years. Interesting that the increasing demand is coming from China.

Chiang Rai Times. Thursday, November 1st, 2012

UN Reports Heroin Poppie Cultivation in Golden Triangle has Doubled

439156.jpg

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime report discussed in the article (South-East Asia Opium Survey 2012



CHIANGRAI- Opium cultivation in Southeast Asia’s main poppy-growing countries has more than doubled over the past six years driven largely by rising heroin demand in China and despite recent efforts by regional governments to eradicate the crop, the United Nations’ narcotics office said in a report released Wednesday.
WO-AL583_OPIUM_G_20121031200907-300x250.jpg

90% of the country’s cultivation takes place in Shan state in the north, where a cease-fire between the Myanmar military and several ethnic militias was recently brokered


The report’s figures show a resurgence in poppy cultivation in Southeast Asia’s notorious Golden Triangle—an area where parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge—that abuts southern China. It is one of the world’s two main opium-producing regions, the other being the Golden Crescent across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
In Myanmar, the increase in illicit drug production comes despite recent political and economic reforms in the country—which as the world’s second-largest grower of poppy after Afghanistan accounts for a quarter of global cultivation—and risks reversing inroads made in a 13-year effort to eliminate opium there. The planted areas are extremely rugged and often controlled by insurgents turned traffickers.
“Because it threatens both the livelihoods of desperately poor people as well as income for armed groups, the act of eradication involves a lot of risk,” said Gary Lewis, the representative for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s East Asia and Pacific division.
“We must engage with the farming communities and persuade them—with alternative development —to stop growing poppy,” Mr. Lewis said.
The number of opiate users in East Asia—particularly China—and the Pacific now accounts for a quarter of the world’s total use, up from a fifth between 2000 and 2005. According to the World Drug Report, also put out by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, registered heroin users in China rose to 1.1 million in 2010 from about 900,000 in 2002 and account for more than 70% of all heroin users in East Asia and the Pacific.
While estimates of the total number of heroin users in China—including unregistered users—are harder to gauge, the total number of injecting drug users is believed to be about 2.5 million, according to the U.N.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the country has contributed to regional and global counter narcotics initiatives and “made great efforts in preventive education and the prohibition of drugs and drug rehabilitation.”
In July, China’s Ministry of Public Security said the Golden Triangle remains China’s biggest source of illicit drugs.
The drug trade remains a funding source for weapons purchases by armed groups in Myanmar, Mr. Lewis said, though cease-fire negotiations in many of the conflict zones mean progress has been made in breaking part of this nexus. About 90% of the country’s cultivation takes place in Shan state in the north, where a cease-fire between the Myanmar military and several ethnic militias was recently brokered. The area also produces methamphetamines, which are sold in abundance across the border in Thailand.
OB-VE607_OPIUM1_D_20121031201212.jpg

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime crop monitors measure poppy buds in an opium field in the hills of the east Shan state, Myanmar.


The annual report, which focused on cultivation patterns in Myanmar and Laos, with Thailand’s poppy production now negligible, found that while annual cultivation is still well below the highs seen in the late 1990s, it has made a steady comeback since the low levels seen in 2006.
Opium cultivation in Myanmar increased to 51,000 hectares in 2012 from 21,600 in 2006, while cultivation in Laos rose to 6,800 from 2,500 over that period. In 1999, when
Myanmar had more than 89,500 hectares under cultivation, the country outlined a 15-year plan to eradicate illicit opium cultivation by 2014, a target that the government clings to, with hedging.
“No one can say absolutely we will be drug free by 2014,” said Lt. Col. Zaw Lin Tun, deputy director of Myanmar’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control in the Ministry of Home Affairs, though he thought that cultivation and drug use can be reduced. He said that the U.N. assessment was accurate.
With the monetary yields of opium crops about 15 times as high as other cash crops, the plant has remained a far more compelling livelihood for many farmers, who live on steep hillsides and often lack means to get other crops to market.
Seng Wan, secretary of the anti-narcotics committee of the political arm of the Shan State Army, which has mostly made peace with the government, said that many young people in the state, home to about 4.8 million people, are addicted to drugs and blamed the increase in cultivation on the lack of alternative development options.
“When you try to cut down poppy plants, you are taking away their livelihood,” he said. “We are trying to cooperate with the government and the UNODC to reduce farming of poppies.” But the unrest in the state has meant the U.N. group has until recently been barred from all but two small districts in Shan to help promote alternative crops.
Myanmar remains on the U.S. government’s list of major drug-producing and drug-transiting countries, although the U.S. is now exempting the country from aid restrictions due to its recent democratization reforms and efforts to work with the U.S. on drug enforcement.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime report discussed in the article (South-East Asia Opium Survey 2012 – Lao PDR, Myanmar) available for free download here (pdf).
 

Rod Page

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Jan 7, 2010
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"This just in" as they say on CNN................

I found it interesting that Naw Kham was convicted as having "colluded with Thai soldiers in the attack", yet I am unaware of any legal action being taken against any Thai soldier presumably so involved. I am similarly unaware even of any enquiry within Thailand into the Thai military despite the Chinese Court referring to the arrests following a "joint operation" that included Thai authorities. Its an interesting science how the Chinese must piece together their evidence.....the bodies were, after all, I understand, found shot with Thai Army issued bullets, fired, I assume from Thai issued weapons.

(Assistance Please: The photo included below, actually appears as a video on CNN - if those IT men out there, smarter than me (& there are very many of them) can copy the actual video acrooss it may be of interest to readers.)


Chinese court rejects appeal in Mekong River killings


By CNN Staff
December 26, 2012 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)

121226085435-vo-china-mekong-river-killings-00001702-story-top.jpg


Appeal in Mekong killings rejected



STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The court rejects the appeals by all six defendants
  • Four of the men had received death sentences
  • They were convicted in the October 2011 killings of 13 Chinese sailors

(CNN) -- A court in China's Yunnan Province on Wednesday rejected an appeal from six defendants convicted of killing 13 Chinese sailors, said the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Last month, the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming sentenced four of the men to death for the killings, which occurred in October 2011 on the Mekong River.
They were also ordered to pay compensation of 6 million yuan (about $960,000).
Read more: Chinese court sentences drug gang to death over river murders
One of the men is a drug lord identified as Naw Kham; the other three were members of his gang, Xinhua said.
Of the two other gang members, one received a death sentence with a reprieve and another was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Thai authorities discovered the murder scene after boarding two Chinese cargo ships that had come under gunfire.
They found nearly 1 million amphetamines and the 12 bodies, some with their hands bound. One sailor was missing.
The men had been charged with homicide, hijacking, kidnapping and drug trafficking.
The alleged gang was arrested in a joint operation by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, according to the state-run China Daily.
Five of the six men are from Myanmar, Thailand and Laos; one is stateless, Xinhua said.
Naw Kham's gang colluded with Thai soldiers in the attack on the cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, Xinhua said.
Naw Kham had also directed several of his subordinates in the kidnapping of Chinese sailors and hijacking of cargo ships in exchange for ransom in early April 2011, the court said.
 

brian_bkk

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Mar 30, 2010
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Rod Page;286051 wrote: Or via this, just sent to me:
The only problem with Youtube and CNN.. Sooner or later the link will get pulled down..
You will see some notice about copyright infringement..

The original URL with video should be there for years to come.

Cheers
Brian
 

silk22

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Feb 20, 2013
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Hello,

I'm not a biker, but am researching a fascinating old painting titled in nearly invisible small carved letters "tunnel on xai". Canvas attached to a wooden military shipping crate panel. Possibly done in the early 1970's from a photo of a drug tunnel located on the riverfront in Huoei Xai. The painter was a Nicaraguan contra mural artist. I don't have permissions to add an attachment, so if interested, kindly write to me at [email protected].
 

Rod Page

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Jan 7, 2010
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The purpose of this post (the original post) was to give those travelling through the Golden Triangle some background, a better understanding of the area through which they were travelling & thereby enhance the experience.

Its readily apparent that many readers enjoy being kept abreast also of the overall drug situation certain if only to potentially assist them in making decisions associated with their own security. Herewith a recent article from a respected newspaper giving an insight into matters in Burma, a country recently open to tourists & where many readers seek to adventure:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/apr/08/johnsweeney.theobserver
 

ianyonok

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Dec 9, 2008
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Not so recent really though Rod....... 2001...?
As I understand, opium production has increased significantly in Burma since then.
 

DavidFL

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The death & story of Lo Hsing Han makes interesting reading here

http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/39530

The former Burmese drug kingpin Lo Hsing Han, an ethnic Kokang who parlayed his influence and earnings from the illicit narcotics trade into a business empire, passed away in Rangoon on Saturday at the age of 80.

Lo Hsing Han died of cardiac arrest at his home in Burma’s commercial capital, according to sources close to the family.

With the blessing of the country’s ex-military regime, Lo Hsing Han accumulated great wealth in the early 1970s as a leading figure in Burma’s notoriously rampant drug trade. His narcotics empire included lucrative opium production in the Kokang region of northern Shan State.

Lo Hsing Han, the father of another Burmese tycoon, Steven Law (also known as Tun Myint Naing), was arrested in 1973 and sentenced to death on charges of treason.

Veteran journalist Bertil Lintner, the author of several books on Burma including “Burma in Revolt: Opium and Insurgency since 1948,” told The Irrawaddy that the drug lord was often misperceived abroad.

“Many outsiders regarded him as an outlaw, but he wasn’t,” said Lintner, whose “Burma in Revolt” details the life of Lo Hsing Han. “He was a local, government-recognized militia commander who was allowed to trade in narcotics in exchange for helping the Burmese army fight the Communist Party of Burma [CPB], which had, in 1969, taken over his native Kokang.

“He was sentenced to death, not for drug trafficking, which he had official permission to engage in, but for ‘rebellion against the state,’ a reference to his brief alliance with the Shan State Army [SSA]. The death sentence was never carried out and he was treated as a VIP even when in prison,” Lintner added.

Lo Hsing Han was arrested by Thai authorities and extradited to Burma after crossing into northern Thailand in 1973, during a period in which he went underground and teamed up with the SSA, an ethnic Shan rebel group. He was later freed, in 1980, in a general amnesty.

Following his release, Lo Hsing Han returned to Lashio, Shan State, where he built up a new militia force under the pyi thu sit program (government-backed paramilitary forces), sponsored by Burma’s Military Intelligence.

According to Lintner, Lo Hsing Han rose to prominence once again after the 1989 CPB rebellion, when he and Burmese officials Olive Yang and Aung Gyi were sent by the military regime’s former spy chief Khin Nyunt to negotiate an agreement with the rebels in Kokang. They reached a deal in early 1990 and Lo Hsing Han and his family were able to establish a new business empire, Asia World Co Ltd, which is today run by son Steven Law.

Asked by The Irrawaddy about Lo Hsing Han’s legacy, Lintner said the man’s positive contributions to Burma were negligible.

“He [Lo Hsing Han] traded in opium and other drugs and built a business empire on black money,” he said.

Lintner said there would be little impact from Lo Hsing Han’s death, as other Kokang businessmen had eclipsed the former drug kingpin in importance and influence, including his son Steven Law, who heads several major firms. In addition, Steven Law’s wife Cecilia Ng manages Golden Aaron Pte Ltd and nine other Singapore-based companies.

Asia World is involved in a number of controversial hydropower projects in Burma, including the Sino-Burmese pipeline project from Arakan State to southern China and the now-suspended Myitsone hydropower dam on the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State.

His brief alliance with the SSA aside, Lo Hsing Han had close ties to Military Intelligence officials, including Tin Oo in the 1970s and Khin Nyunt from the late 1980s onwards, Lintner said.

Lo Hsing Han and son Steven Law were put on the US sanctions lists in February 2008, along with their companies Asia World, Asia World Port Management, Asia World Industries Ltd and Asia World Light Ltd.

The US blacklisting does not seem to have tainted local opinion of the business tycoon, with cars lining the street outside Lo Hsing Han’s villa in Rangoon on Monday as visitors paid their respects. Agriculture Minister Myint Hlaing and Border Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win both placed notes of condolence in Monday’s edition of The Mirror, a state-run newspaper.

In an obituary in the state-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin on Monday, Lo Hsing Han’s family indicated that his funeral will take place on July 17. He is survived by his wife, eight children and 16 grandchildren.
 

brian_bkk

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Mar 30, 2010
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Lo Hsing Han: the life and crimes of Asia's heroin king

Few will ever be called freedom fighter, drug trafficker and international business tycoon in their obituaries, but all describe the life of the Shan `godfather'

Published: 21 Jul 2013 at 00.42Newspaper section: Spectrum

Lo Hsing Han, who was buried in Yangon last week, led three exciting lives in his 80 or so years.

523530.jpg


Full article here

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investigation/360823/lo-hsing-han-from-freedom-fighter-to-drug-lord-to-businessman
 

ronwebb

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Jul 25, 2010
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I would assume that followers of this thread have seen the Journeyman documentary on Khun Sa. If not., its on youtube....

 

DavidFL

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Another in-on drug commander goes to the pen
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 15:33 S.H.A.N.
http://www.english.panglong.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5634:another-in-on-drug-commander-goes-to-the-pen&catid=89:drugs&Itemid=286

A light infantry battalion commander whose unit is based on the notorious Gold Triangle has been locked up following seizure of 7 tons of “Ice” (crystal methamphetamine) on 3 October, according to sources.

17 other officers and other ranks from LID 571, based in Ta Lerh (Talay), 48km north of Tachilek, are reportedly under custody.

3 men were arrested and their two pick-ups carrying the said consignment confiscated by the Ta Lerh police while on their way from Mong Lane to Tachilek. The 3 were Sai Noi, Sai Hsu and Sai Hawng.
naw-kham

Naw Kham (center) and three of his accomplices, unseen, taken to the execution chambers where they received lethal injection in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Friday, March 1, 2013. (Photo: Xinhua/AP)

As Sai Noi is a nephew of the local People’s Militia Force (PMF) chief Ja Law Bo, he was summoned by the authorities for questioning, but later released after a pledge was signed he would be available for further questioning, according to a source close to the military.

“This is the second time military officers have been taken action for their involvement in drug trafficking,” she said.

The first time took place in Tachilek, when a colonel was arrested, following a shoot-out on 28 February when Infantry Battalion # 331 commander Lt-Col Zeya Win was killed. The incident came in the wake of a major haul of methamphetamine pills at Nawng Hsarm Pu, Mong Phong, where the late “Godfather” Naw Kham, who was executed in Kunming on 1 March, used to roam.

Contrary to Beijing’s claim that “request occurrence of drug-related crimes on the Mekong River has been effectively contained” both locals and drug enforcement officers have stated otherwise. “In fact, the situation has become worse since Naw Kham’s arrest (on 24 April 2012),” said a high official whom SHAN met in Naypyitaw in June. And Naw Kham was but a small link in the drug chain.

The military, in the meanwhile, has been conducting its legal proceedings quietly. According to Article 319 of the 2008 constitution, legal cases that involve defense services personnel are administered independently by courts-martial. Civilian courts have no jurisdiction over them.
 

Rod Page

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As mentioned in the initial post of this report the demise of Khun Sa saw the rise of Wei Xuegang – Khun Sa’s former accountant - who moved from heroin into metamphetamines & with the support of the Wa became the biggest drug-lord in the region. Bang Ron, also mentioned in this report, in more recent years & despite international warrants for his arrest escaped (unchallenged) from Thailand at the Three Pagodas border crossing into Burma from where he would run the laboratories for Wei Xuegang. More recently, however, & also mentioned in this report, Bang Ron moved to run the casino in Boten (clearly underlining Wei Xuegang’s involvement in the casino’s operation).

Basically it was no surprise to read this week of Laos rice farmers openly rebelling against being forced from their land by those behind the casino, by a casino where rumours are rife concerning the casino’s role in a series of kidnappings, the under-age sex trade, drugs, even murders.

Auke who sent me the information below mentioned Sombath Somphone a director and driving force of a local NGO in Laos (with whom Auke worked in 1998 & a strong vocal & active opponent of the casino’s operations, who "disappeared" more than a year ago without any news since as to his whereabouts despite pressure on the Laos government coming from the USA, EU and a number of other organizations.

Respected Pal Nyiri, an anthropologist, historian and China scholar, pal Nyiri has for some time reported suggestions of Kings Roman, the Chinese casinos in Laos and Myanmar, as having made large one-time payments to the President and Prime Minister of Laos in the order of $USD5 million to secure the land concession which lies at the centre of the recent unrest. Pal Nyiri’s words make for a sobering reminder of where Golden Triangle drug-lords have now taken their activities:

Lao and Thai colleagues who visited the area last year told me that the casino managers had built bunds around the resistant villages to flood the people's homes in an attempt to get them to leave. I gather some very high level officials flew in by helicopter and so must have known of the situation, but chose not assist their countrymen and women. The casino is well known as a centre for drug dealing, money laundering and procuring (at times under age) girls and boys for the sex trade, some of whom are procured from Myanmar. Being in Lao territory Thai and China police are unable to act to close it down. Like Boten, where the China police were active on getting the place closed, King Roman is clearly identified with illegal activities, which, locals say, may include murder, but is, people gather, immune.

When we visited a few years ago, we were interested to see all the signs of capital imperialism. The place runs on Beijing time, uses yen (and RMB) and all signage is in Chinese. The SCMP story underlines this Chinese enclave description. Effectively Lao are in the local minority (in their own nation). Later across the border, Thai community leaders expressed anger and concern at the growth of an adjacent Lao narco state, and noted that local debt was rising as gambling was so easily available (as it is in the south of Lao). As a UNDOC's official said: ' There is no reason to think the activities or reputation that the Golden Triangle once enjoyed, show any signs of changing..'

My colleagues learned that the farmers who are resisting, because they had seen what happened to those who gave up land for the casino and learned from that situation. Those farmers they were told, live in abject poverty and as a result there is lots of social dislocation; people having to sell their children into the sex trade etc. Chinese farmers out compete the locals, so there are really serious social issues in the area. It is far from a development success story.

They also reported high levels of community stress and anger, as clients from the casino were preying on underage girls. Parents would ask their daughters to harvest food only to discover the girls (some as young as 12) had disappeared. Later Chinese men they were told by tearful mothers, turned up tossing a bundle of yen in for 'rental' of their daughters. It's a major child welfare issue.As mentioned in the initial post of this report the demise of Khun Sa saw the rise of Wei Xuegang – Khun Sa’s former accountant - who moved from heroin into metamphetamines & with the support of the Wa became the biggest drug-lord in the region. Bang Ron, also mentioned in this report, in more recent years & despite international warrants for his arrest escaped (unchallenged) from Thailand at the Three Pagodas border crossing into Burma from where he would run the laboratories for Wei Xuegang. More recently, however, & also mentioned in this report, Bang Ron moved to run the casino in Boten (clearly underlining Wei Xuegang’s involvement in the casino’s operation).

Basically it was no surprise to read this week of Laos rice farmers openly rebelling against being forced from their land by those behind the casino, by a casino where rumours are rife concerning the casino’s role in a series of kidnappings, the under-age sex trade, drugs, even murders.

Auke who sent me the information below mentioned Sombath Somphone a director and driving force of a local NGO in Laos (with whom Auke worked in 1998) & a strong vocal & active opponent of the casino’s operations, who "disappeared" more than a year ago without any news since as to his whereabouts despite pressure on the Laos government coming from the USA, EU and a number of other organizations.

Respected Pal Nyiri, an anthropologist, historian and China scholar, pal Nyiri has for some time reported suggestions of Kings Roman, the Chinese casinos in Laos and Myanmar, as having made large one-time payments to the President and Prime Minister of Laos in the order of $USD5 million to secure the land concession which lies at the centre of the recent unrest. Pal Nyiri’s words make for a sobering reminder of where Golden Triangle drug-lords have now taken their activities:

Lao and Thai colleagues who visited the area last year told me that the casino managers had built bunds around the resistant villages to flood the people's homes in an attempt to get them to leave. I gather some very high level officials flew in by helicopter and so must have known of the situation, but chose not assist their countrymen and women. The casino is well known as a centre for drug dealing, money laundering and procuring (at times under age) girls and boys for the sex trade, some of whom are procured from Myanmar. Being in Lao territory Thai and China police are unable to act to close it down. Like Boten, where the China police were active on getting the place closed, King Roman is clearly identified with illegal activities, which, locals say, may include murder, but is, people gather, immune.

When we visited a few years ago, we were interested to see all the signs of capital imperialism. The place runs on Beijing time, uses yen (and RMB) and all signage is in Chinese. The SCMP story underlines this Chinese enclave description. Effectively Lao are in the local minority (in their own nation). Later across the border, Thai community leaders expressed anger and concern at the growth of an adjacent Lao narco state, and noted that local debt was rising as gambling was so easily available (as it is in the south of Lao). As a UNDOC's official said: ' There is no reason to think the activities or reputation that the Golden Triangle once enjoyed, show any signs of changing..'

My colleagues learned that the farmers who are resisting, because they had seen what happened to those who gave up land for the casino and learned from that situation. Those farmers they were told, live in abject poverty and as a result there is lots of social dislocation; people having to sell their children into the sex trade etc. Chinese farmers out compete the locals, so there are really serious social issues in the area. It is far from a development success story.

They also reported high levels of community stress and anger, as clients from the casino were preying on underage girls. Parents would ask their daughters to harvest food only to discover the girls (some as young as 12) had disappeared. Later Chinese men they were told by tearful mothers, turned up tossing a bundle of yen in for 'rental' of their daughters. It's a major child welfare issue.
 

Rod Page

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Jan 7, 2010
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I have some mates considering coming over to ride the Thai section of the trip covered in this report. Essentially they are considering the following route (along the lines proposed in this report):

Chaing Mai - Doi Mae Salong - Chiang Saen - Sop Ruak - Mae Sae - Thod Thai (via border road through Doi Tung) - Doi Ang Khang (via the army controlled road behind Doi Phahompok & up past Nor Lae. See: Caution: Very Steep/Dangerous Road Collapse/ Restricted Area Dangerous Road) - Piang Luang (via Arunathai & Chong. See: The Chong Loop - MHS (via Pank Kham & Loi Tai Leng, if possible).

I am wondering if anyone can give me advice on road conditions in the areas under consideration following the recent earthquake????

I'd also greatly appreciate any input concerning the following:

1. Is the road behind Doi Phahompok open to riders? Has the previously collapsed section of the road been repaired?

2. Is the climb up to Nor Lae possible in terms of current road conditions & access permitted by the army?

3. Is access to Loi Tai Leng still possible?

Normally I'd be giving you these answers - its a little more difficult from Bora Bora!

Trust all GTR's are safe & well & many thanks for any input.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DavidFL

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Rod Page;299119 wrote: I have some mates considering coming over to ride the Thai section of the trip covered in this report. Essentially they are considering the following route (along the lines proposed in this report):

Chaing Mai - Doi Mae Salong - Chiang Saen - Sop Ruak - Mae Sae - Thod Thai (via border road through Doi Tung) - Doi Ang Khang (via the army controlled road behind Doi Phahompok & up past Nor Lae. See: https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-m...-Road-Collapse-Restricted-Area-Dangerous-Road) - Piang Luang (via Arunathai & Chong. See: https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/34463-The-quot-Chong-Loop-quot) - MHS (via Pank Kham & Loi Tai Leng, if possible).

I am wondering if anyone can give me advice on road conditions in the areas under consideration following the recent earthquake????

I'd also greatly appreciate any input concerning the following:

1. Is the road behind Doi Phahompok open to riders? Has the previously collapsed section of the road been repaired?

2. Is the climb up to Nor Lae possible in terms of current road conditions & access permitted by the army?

3. Is access to Loi Tai Leng still possible?

Normally I'd be giving you these answers - its a little more difficult from Bora Bora!

Trust all GTR's are safe & well & many thanks for any input.
Hi there Rod, sorry about the slow reply been busy on the road after a trip downunder.

The Doi Phahompok back road is probably open, but the situation is changing all the time.

Nor Lae is open only at certain times. Ian was up there recently.
The Ascent of Doi PaNgom

Loi Tai Laeng I would say probably no, but you never know.

I hope this is a help & everything is ok on Bora Bora.
 
Last edited:

DavidFL

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Davidfl;268899 wrote: Lao Ta Coffee & History
Bangkok Post

The Pha Daeng Mansion
Eradicating drug trafficking is impossible and setting deadlines to clean up drugs is unrealistic, says Lao Ta Saenlee, 74, a former Kuomintang fighter accused of being involved in the illegal trade.
Jailed for four years as he fought charges of trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons, the infamous Lao Ta was released three years ago.
He is now pursuing a new business venture _ his own franchise of Lao Ta Coffee shops in the North.
Although the courts dismissed the trafficking and attempted murder cases against him, Lao Ta was found guilty of illegal possession of weapons.
Lao Ta’s name has been associated with the now deceased “Opium King” Chang Chi-fu or Khun Sa, and the current drug baron Wei Hsueh-kang of the United Wa State Army. He knows Wei, as he knew Chang, but denied any drug links with them.
He is sceptical of the government’s current anti-drug campaign.
“You cannot set deadlines in solving the drug problem. It is not possibble.
“In fact, I don’t believe you can solve the problem,” Lao Ta said in an interview recently at his village coffee shop in Ban Huay Sarn of Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district.
“The rich want the drugs and the poor traffic them,” he said.
Lao Ta predicts heroin prices will increase this year, as adverse weather conditions in Burma are likely to hit opium production.
He also predicts that trafficking and the use of new drugs will increase.
Pornthep Eam-prapai, director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in the North, says the number of addicts and small-time sellers there has increased 30-40% over the past three years.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke to drug authorities in the North recently when he expressed concern over drug addiction and use of drugs among youth, especially in Chang Mai and Chiang Rai.
In response, authorities are now monitoring places where youths tend to gather, such as internet shops and cafes, entertainment spots and karaoke lounges, and student flats and housing.
They are also monitoring the movements of suspected sellers and traffickers, Mr Pornthep said, adding that many new faces had popped up in the drug trade. About 100 individuals are being monitored _ including Lao Ta.
Lao Ta says the war against drugs led by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was too severe, as officials abused their authority.
“No one agreed with it. They gave police too much power and this led to abuse across the country. They killed over 2,000 people,” he said.
The Abhisit government has launched a probe into deaths under Thaksin’s war on drugs.
“When I was in jail, many hilltribe villagers who visited me complained about the abuse,” Lao Ta said.
“Abhisit is not decisive but his approach to the drug problem is better. His government has launched its own campaign, but it is not violent. At least the Abhisit campaign lets the judicial process take its course,” Lao Ta said.
Like many former KMT soldiers, Lao Ta fought the communist insurgents before being allowed to live in Thailand. He has consistently denied being involved in heroin trafficking although he admits that he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.
And he has his own theory as to why he was the target of Thaksin’s war against drugs which resulted in him being jailed for four years.
”Because I worked for the Thai government and fought against the communist insurgency, certain members of the Thai Rak Thai Party, some of whom were former insurgents, wanted revenge. They wanted to get me,” he said.
Another reason is that he refused to lend Thai Rak Thai any political support.
Lao Ta wields considerable influence in his village and surrounding hilltribe villages.
”They know the hilltribe people of my villages and I do not support them because they are former insurgents.
”They also asked for my support in local and district elections, but I refused. That’s why I was bullied,” he said.
”I never thought I would be arrested for trafficking, as I have never been involved in heroin trafficking.
”if I ever meet him [Thaksin] I don’t think I could control myself,” he said.

A couple pf pics with Lao Ta

299802=19422-dsc_1141.jpg


299802=19421-dsc_1135.jpg


Lao Ta's coffee shop is on GTR here
Lao Ta's Coffee - Tha Ton.
 
Last edited:

DavidFL

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Kings Roman - Chinese City at the Golden Triangle

Rod Page;296237 wrote: As mentioned in the initial post of this report the demise of Khun Sa saw the rise of Wei Xuegang – Khun Sa’s former accountant - who moved from heroin into metamphetamines & with the support of the Wa became the biggest drug-lord in the region. Bang Ron, also mentioned in this report, in more recent years & despite international warrants for his arrest escaped (unchallenged) from Thailand at the Three Pagodas border crossing into Burma from where he would run the laboratories for Wei Xuegang. More recently, however, & also mentioned in this report, Bang Ron moved to run the casino in Boten (clearly underlining Wei Xuegang’s involvement in the casino’s operation).

Basically it was no surprise to read this week of Laos rice farmers openly rebelling against being forced from their land by those behind the casino, by a casino where rumours are rife concerning the casino’s role in a series of kidnappings, the under-age sex trade, drugs, even murders.

Auke who sent me the information below mentioned Sombath Somphone a director and driving force of a local NGO in Laos (with whom Auke worked in 1998 & a strong vocal & active opponent of the casino’s operations, who "disappeared" more than a year ago without any news since as to his whereabouts despite pressure on the Laos government coming from the USA, EU and a number of other organizations.

Respected Pal Nyiri, an anthropologist, historian and China scholar, pal Nyiri has for some time reported suggestions of Kings Roman, the Chinese casinos in Laos and Myanmar, as having made large one-time payments to the President and Prime Minister of Laos in the order of $USD5 million to secure the land concession which lies at the centre of the recent unrest. Pal Nyiri’s words make for a sobering reminder of where Golden Triangle drug-lords have now taken their activities:

Lao and Thai colleagues who visited the area last year told me that the casino managers had built bunds around the resistant villages to flood the people's homes in an attempt to get them to leave. I gather some very high level officials flew in by helicopter and so must have known of the situation, but chose not assist their countrymen and women. The casino is well known as a centre for drug dealing, money laundering and procuring (at times under age) girls and boys for the sex trade, some of whom are procured from Myanmar. Being in Lao territory Thai and China police are unable to act to close it down. Like Boten, where the China police were active on getting the place closed, King Roman is clearly identified with illegal activities, which, locals say, may include murder, but is, people gather, immune.

When we visited a few years ago, we were interested to see all the signs of capital imperialism. The place runs on Beijing time, uses yen (and RMB) and all signage is in Chinese. The SCMP story underlines this Chinese enclave description. Effectively Lao are in the local minority (in their own nation). Later across the border, Thai community leaders expressed anger and concern at the growth of an adjacent Lao narco state, and noted that local debt was rising as gambling was so easily available (as it is in the south of Lao). As a UNDOC's official said: ' There is no reason to think the activities or reputation that the Golden Triangle once enjoyed, show any signs of changing..'

My colleagues learned that the farmers who are resisting, because they had seen what happened to those who gave up land for the casino and learned from that situation. Those farmers they were told, live in abject poverty and as a result there is lots of social dislocation; people having to sell their children into the sex trade etc. Chinese farmers out compete the locals, so there are really serious social issues in the area. It is far from a development success story.

They also reported high levels of community stress and anger, as clients from the casino were preying on underage girls. Parents would ask their daughters to harvest food only to discover the girls (some as young as 12) had disappeared. Later Chinese men they were told by tearful mothers, turned up tossing a bundle of yen in for 'rental' of their daughters. It's a major child welfare issue.As mentioned in the initial post of this report the demise of Khun Sa saw the rise of Wei Xuegang – Khun Sa’s former accountant - who moved from heroin into metamphetamines & with the support of the Wa became the biggest drug-lord in the region. Bang Ron, also mentioned in this report, in more recent years & despite international warrants for his arrest escaped (unchallenged) from Thailand at the Three Pagodas border crossing into Burma from where he would run the laboratories for Wei Xuegang. More recently, however, & also mentioned in this report, Bang Ron moved to run the casino in Boten (clearly underlining Wei Xuegang’s involvement in the casino’s operation).

Basically it was no surprise to read this week of Laos rice farmers openly rebelling against being forced from their land by those behind the casino, by a casino where rumours are rife concerning the casino’s role in a series of kidnappings, the under-age sex trade, drugs, even murders.

Auke who sent me the information below mentioned Sombath Somphone a director and driving force of a local NGO in Laos (with whom Auke worked in 1998) & a strong vocal & active opponent of the casino’s operations, who "disappeared" more than a year ago without any news since as to his whereabouts despite pressure on the Laos government coming from the USA, EU and a number of other organizations.

Respected Pal Nyiri, an anthropologist, historian and China scholar, pal Nyiri has for some time reported suggestions of Kings Roman, the Chinese casinos in Laos and Myanmar, as having made large one-time payments to the President and Prime Minister of Laos in the order of $USD5 million to secure the land concession which lies at the centre of the recent unrest. Pal Nyiri’s words make for a sobering reminder of where Golden Triangle drug-lords have now taken their activities:

Lao and Thai colleagues who visited the area last year told me that the casino managers had built bunds around the resistant villages to flood the people's homes in an attempt to get them to leave. I gather some very high level officials flew in by helicopter and so must have known of the situation, but chose not assist their countrymen and women. The casino is well known as a centre for drug dealing, money laundering and procuring (at times under age) girls and boys for the sex trade, some of whom are procured from Myanmar. Being in Lao territory Thai and China police are unable to act to close it down. Like Boten, where the China police were active on getting the place closed, King Roman is clearly identified with illegal activities, which, locals say, may include murder, but is, people gather, immune.

When we visited a few years ago, we were interested to see all the signs of capital imperialism. The place runs on Beijing time, uses yen (and RMB) and all signage is in Chinese. The SCMP story underlines this Chinese enclave description. Effectively Lao are in the local minority (in their own nation). Later across the border, Thai community leaders expressed anger and concern at the growth of an adjacent Lao narco state, and noted that local debt was rising as gambling was so easily available (as it is in the south of Lao). As a UNDOC's official said: ' There is no reason to think the activities or reputation that the Golden Triangle once enjoyed, show any signs of changing..'

My colleagues learned that the farmers who are resisting, because they had seen what happened to those who gave up land for the casino and learned from that situation. Those farmers they were told, live in abject poverty and as a result there is lots of social dislocation; people having to sell their children into the sex trade etc. Chinese farmers out compete the locals, so there are really serious social issues in the area. It is far from a development success story.

They also reported high levels of community stress and anger, as clients from the casino were preying on underage girls. Parents would ask their daughters to harvest food only to discover the girls (some as young as 12) had disappeared. Later Chinese men they were told by tearful mothers, turned up tossing a bundle of yen in for 'rental' of their daughters. It's a major child welfare issue.

The Environmental Investigation Agency has just released a 24 page report on the Lao-China wildlife trade & Kings Roman features strongly in the report.

The primary activity of the Kings Romans Group (KRG), based on company records, is the raising of livestock other than dairy and poultry.34 The company president is Chinese businessman Zhao Wei (also known as Chio Wai), the Chairman of the GT SEZ.
Originally from Heilongjiang province in northern China, Zhao started out trading timber before moving to Macau in the 1990s, where he currently holds permanent residency.
In Macau, Zhao invested in various casinos in the city’s long-established gambling industry.38 Around 2001, he moved to Mong La in Myanmar where he set up and ran one of the largest casinos, Landun Entertainment. He reportedly established ties with the local militia, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and its leader Lin Mingxian (also known as Sai Lin). Lin is said to have financed much of Mong La’s casino industry using money he made from the drugs trade.
In 2005, following reports of Chinese officials gambling away state funds in Mong La, the Chinese Government imposed a travel ban on officials visiting the city.
This prompted the closure of many casinos. Soon afterwards, Zhao was invited by the Laos Government to invest in its northern province of Bokeo and in 2007 an agreement was reached between the Laos Government and the newly named Kings Romans Group.

LIVE ANIMAL ENCLOSURE
The GT SEZ’s ‘zoo’, a short walk from the casino, had 26 tigers and 38 Asiatic black bears on display during EIA/ ENV site visits. The head keeper boasted of being an experienced tiger breeder and butcher, and claimed to have worked at a number of tiger farms in China, including one facility exposed several times for selling tiger bone wine. He was recruited by KRG and brought to Laos to help expand tiger breeding operations from a model based on buying and rearing tigers acquired from tiger farms elsewhere in the country to breed its own tigers.
Throughout the exchange, he gave the impression that there were no restrictions on the keeping, breeding or trading of captive tigers in Laos.

According to the head keeper, before he arrived at the GT SEZ in mid-2013 there were 30 tigers acquired from another tiger farm in Laos. Poor husbandry reportedly led to the deaths of most and by the time he arrived there were only six male tigers remaining. In mid-2014, investigators found four tigers in the enclosure. By February 2015, the number had risen to 26.
The keeper revealed that in late 2014, a further 29 tigers were flown in by helicopter from a tiger farm in Laos (20 females and nine males, of which eight were juveniles). The remaining nine tigers were reportedly held in out-of-bounds locations at the GT SEZ.
The rise in numbers shows that the breeding expansion plan is underway. The keeper told investigators the plan is to acquire a total of 50 females for breeding, with the aim of producing 500 tigers within three years and up to 1,000 tigers in the long term. To accommodate the expansion, a much larger enclosure is planned 5km south-east of the casino.
The ultimate intention is to produce tiger bone wine for consumption at the GT SEZ and for export to China, via Yunnan.
He claimed the Asiatic bears in the ‘zoo’ had been smuggled from Myanmar and the adults were destined to be eaten rather than milked for bile.

Go here for more info:
http://eia-international.org/laos-sin-city-is-an-illegal-wildlife-supermarket-for-chinese-tourists

and the full report
http://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-Sin-City-FINAL-med-res.pdf
 

DavidFL

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A Reuters Report 16 March 2016

c1_899828_160316141707_620x413.jpg

THE MEKONG RIVER -- The Lao People's Army patrol boat was custom-made in China with night-vision capability and two of the most powerful engines on this remote stretch of the Mekong River.

Today, like most days, it sits idle for lack of gasoline, guarded by a single Lao soldier in flip-flops.

<video controls="controls" width="300" height="150">
<source src="http://www.bangkokpost.com/vdo/thailand/899832/led-by-china-mekong-nations-take-on-golden-triangle-narco-empire" /></video>

Even occasional patrols by boats like these, supplied by China to the Lao army and Myanmar police, have successfully subdued the pirates who once robbed the Mekong's cargo ships with impunity since Chinese-led joint patrols began in 2011.

Flags flutter on a boat while a delegates from China's Narcotics Control Bureau, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand travel on an inspection trip on the Mekong River near the border between China, Laos and Myanmar March 1. (Reuters photo)

But there has been little progress on another objective -- stemming the flood of illicit drugs -- exposing the limits of China's hard power in mainland Southeast Asia even as Beijing accelerates its militarisation of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

While attacks on Mekong shipping have tailed off, drug production and trafficking in the untamed region, known as the Golden Triangle, is booming - despite the presence of Chinese gunboats and units of Chinese armed police along the Mekong.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that Southeast Asia's trade in heroin and methamphetamine was worth US$31 billion in 2013.

"That's bigger than the economies of some Southeast Asian countries," says Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC's Asia-Pacific chief. "It's like having an undeclared sovereign state in your midst with no borders and lots of money."

Enter another Mekong boat, looking at first glance like a pleasure cruiser filled with middle-aged tourists. In fact, they are senior police and drugs experts from four countries, among them one of China's top anti-narcotics officials, Wei Xiaojun.

Arranged by the UNODC and lent further clout by Mr Wei's involvement, their recent voyage down the Mekong was aimed at mustering the regional collaboration needed to tame the Golden Triangle.

1617368.jpg


Thai soldiers stand guard at Ban Kaen Kai operation base on the Mekong river at the border between Thailand and Laos March 3. (Reuters photo)

Reuters was invited to join the four-day trip from the Chinese port of Jinghong through the heart of the Golden Triangle.

Mr Wei, who is deputy secretary-general of China's National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), called drugs the "main threat" along the Mekong.

"All other types of organised crime are rooted in the drug business, like human trafficking, money laundering and the illegal wildlife trade," he said.

Crazy medicine

China is a favourite destination for Myanmar's drugs, which are flowing through Asia in unprecedented quantities.

A long boat sails near the port of Chiang Saen on the Thai side of the Golden Triangle at the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar in the Mekong River March 3. (Reuters photo)

More than 250 million methamphetamine pills, better known by their Thai name ya ba or "crazy medicine", were seized in East and Southeast Asia in 2013, an eight-fold increase from 2008.

Seizures of "crystal meth" or "ice" -- a potent, crystalline form of methamphetamine dubbed "the poor man's cocaine" -- doubled during the same period.

In 2015, China seized a record 36.5 tonnes of methamphetamine, said the UNODC, with most of the drug in pill form coming from Myanmar. Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium, the bulk of which ends up in China as heroin.

A recent report from the NNCC raised concerns about the involvement of some Chinese military personnel in drug trafficking, and said the number of registered drug users in China rose to more than 2.3 million in 2015.

Increasingly Myanmar too has a drug problem, with police last year making record-breaking busts of both ya ba and ice.

This could severely test the new government of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party has yet to formulate drug policies, say experts.

'Off the grid'

Many factors combine to help the Golden Triangle's drug industry prosper.

1617364.jpg


A man sits on a long boat on the Mekong River near the Golden Triangle at the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand March 1. (Reuters photo)

The Myanmar-Laos border, which the Mekong delineates, is mostly unguarded. The terrain is rugged and hostile, with rebel armies holding sway in some areas and drugs and money-laundering flourishing in lawless enclaves on both sides of the river.

Regional law enforcement agencies are often underfunded and ill-trained, and the intelligence they gather is not effectively shared with neighbouring countries.

In October 2011, a gang led by a Mekong pirate called Naw Kham murdered 13 Chinese sailors. He was hunted down in Laos, then taken back to China to be tried and executed.

The Blue Shield casino operated by the Kings Romans Group stands in the Golden Triangle special economic zone on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos near the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand March 2. (Reuters photo)

Afterwards, Chinese gunboats began patrolling further downriver, extending China's security reach far beyond its borders.

This includes a riverside facility in Muang Mom in Laos, which Reuters visited, run and guarded by a 25-strong unit of Chinese People's Armed Police.

China conducts monthly joint patrols with its Lao and Myanmar counterparts, who -- gasoline permitting -- do additional patrols by themselves.

There have been successes. In 2013, a Chinese-Lao patrol found 580 kilogrammes of ya ba, worth more than 100 million yuan ($15 million), hidden in a cargo ship.

But more patrols were needed, said the UNODC's Mr Douglas, and Mekong countries also needed to coordinate and share intelligence to interdict more drugs.

Black holes

Some areas remain intelligence black holes. Hsop Lwe, for example, is Myanmar's busiest port on the Mekong, but its government has no control over it.

The port belongs to Special Region 4, a semi-autonomous enclave famous for gambling, prostitution and narcotics. To the north is Special Region 2, also controlled by heavily armed rebels.

The Special Regions were "off the political grid," said Mr Douglas, although he hoped Mrs Suu Kyi's new government would engage with and secure better access to them.

The UNODC boat could not get permission to stop at Hsop Lwe, where a Chinese cargo ship was unloading SUVs as it passed.

A Thai military post is seen near the port of Chiang Saen on the Thai side of the Golden Triangle at the triple border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar in the Mekong River March 3. (Reuters photo)

Reuters reporters also spotted unofficial Mekong ports in Laos, which this year chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Landlocked and impoverished, Laos shares a border with all the Mekong countries, which also include Vietnam and Thailand, making it an important smuggling hub for both narcotics and the chemicals that make them.

From Vietnam, for example, comes tonnes of caffeine, used in methamphetamine production and spirited through Laos and across the Mekong in rice bags. Other lawless areas were being created by the Mekong itself.

The ever-shifting river created islands where drug shipments were hidden, said Col Patpong Ngasantheir of the Royal Thai Army. But according to a treaty negotiated while Laos was still a French colony, these islands were deemed neutral.

"We're not allowed to search them," he said.

Source:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southeastasia-drugs-mekong-idUSKCN0WH2YJ

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/899828/mekong-nations-take-on-golden-triangle-narco-empire
 

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24 June 2016

Wa Military Leader Arrested For Drug Trafficking in Chiang Mai.

10 kilograms of pure methamphetamine,
7.5 kilograms of raw opium
26,400 methamphetamine pills.
6.8 million baht (Nearly US$200,000) in cash

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Ma Ma, a leader of the Wa National Organization (WNO), the political wing of an ethnic Wa armed group, was arrested by Thai narcotics police in Chiang Mai, Thailand this week.

Thai police officials from the Office of Narcotics Control Board held a press conference at their Chiang Mai branch office on Thursday, saying they arrested the Wa leader with 10 kilograms of pure methamphetamine, 7.5 kilograms of raw opium and 26,400 methamphetamine pills.

The police also seized 6.8 million baht (Nearly US$200,000) in cash during the arrest, which took place on Tuesday this week in Tambon Pa Daet in Chiang Mai. Thai police identified the Wa leader as Ma Ma.

The Wa leader, who is known in Burmese media as Tat Ma Har, serves as vice-chairman of the WNO, a member organization of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of nine ethnic armed groups who are engaging in peace talks with the Burmese government, but have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

The NCA is a peace pact that was signed last year under the former government of President Thein Sein and includes eight ethnic armed groups as signatories.

The arrest resulted from an insider report that Ma Ma and his cohorts were part of a major drug trafficking ring. The drugs were smuggled from Burma to Thailand for distribution to customers, according to a Thai media outlet, Manager Online.

The WNO has long been involved in the illicit drug trade, and one of its past leaders, Mahasang, was also arrested in Chiang Mai and died in prison.

The WNO’s military wing, the Wa National Army (WNA), operates in northern Shan State and near the Thai-Burma border.

When contacted by The Irrawaddy on Friday, two UNFC leaders declined to give comments.

Observers, however, said the UNFC may have no connection with the drug trade run by members of the WNO. The UNFC’s relationship with the WNO is simply for political purposes, said observers, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

In early June, the UNFC leaders met with a Burmese government peace delegation, led by Dr. Tin Myo Win, in Chiang Mai where they were invited to participate in both a political framework development meeting and the Union peace conference—branded by the new government as the “21st Century Panglong Conference”—which is scheduled to take place in late July.

The first Panglong Conference, convened by Gen Aung San in 1947, resulted in an agreement between the leaders of some of Burma’s major ethnic groups, guaranteeing autonomy for “frontier areas” in exchange for joining the soon-to-be independent Union of Burma.

The UNFC leaders have expressed willingness to participate in the “21st Century Panglong Conference” but have not made a final decision.

Source: Irrawaddy News
 

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From
New Bridge For Mandalay-muse Highway

a huge new bridge is being built in Northern Myanmar.
The bridge contract has been awarded to Oriental Highway Company, a former subsidiary of the Asia World Group founded by late businessman Lo Hsing Han and his son Stephen Law.

http://www.economist.com/news/obitu...coon-died-july-6th-aged-about-80-lo-hsing-han

Some info on Stephen Law & the Asia World conglomerate.

Stephen Law, son of Lo Hsing Han, the #1 Drug warlord in Myanmar for many years.

1. (C) Summary. Tun Myint Naing, a.k.a. Steven Law, is known among Burma's business circles as the regime's top crony. He is known to be close with both Senior General Than Shwe and Vice Senior General Maung Aye. In addition to owning Asia World Co. Ltd., one of Burma's most successful construction and trading companies, Steven Law and his wife Cecilia Ng have interests in several large Rangoon hotels and office buildings, a supermarket chain, and a brewery. Steven Law also owns several businesses in Singapore, including Asia World Industries, Golden Aaron Company, S.H. Ng Trading Company, and Kokang Singapore Pte. Ltd. He also has economic interests in Thailand. Business contacts confirm that Steven Law has partnered with Malaysian-born billionaire Robert Kuok and Kuok Singapore Ltd. on a number of real estate ventures in Burma. Based on information from Embassy Rangoon's DEA Office as well as business contacts, we have compiled a list of 24 of Steven Law's known aliases. End Summary.

Biographic Data
2. (C) The son of Chang Feng Hsuan Lo (a.k.a. Kyat Phone Shin) and Lo Hsing Han, a known drug lord and Chairman of Asia World Company, Tun Myint Naing a.k.a. Steven Law is known among Burma's business circles as the regime's top crony (Ref B). Steven Law was born in Burma on May 16, 1958.
He has six brothers: Lu Law, David Lo, Eric Ping Sin Lo, Henry Lo, Moses Ping Chao Lo, and Aung Kyaw Naing, and two sisters: Daisy Lo and Thi Da Han Ma. Steven Law also has a cousin named Win Aung. Our business contacts confirmed that Steven Law's cousin is not the Win Aung associated with Dagon International and Dagon Timber Company (Ref D).

3. (C) Based on information gathered from Embassy Rangoon's DEA office, as well as from our business contacts, we have compiled a list of Steven Law's known aliases and name variations:

Steven Law
Stephen Law
Stephen Lo
Stephen Ping Chung Lo
Steven Ping Chung Lo
Stephen
Steven Naing
Win Naing
Htun Myint Naing
Myint Naing Htun
Myint Naing Tun
U Tun Myint Naing
Tun Myint Naing
A Chiu
Lo Ping Chung
Lo Ping Zhong
Lo Ping Hau
Lo Ping Haw
Ping Chung Lo
Ping Shao Lo
Pin Shao Lo
Ping Han Lo

4. (C) On March 16, 1996, Steven Law married his business partner, Singaporean-born Cecilia Ng, a.k.a. Ng Sor Hong. They have two daughters (one from Cecilia's previous marriage) and spend most of their time in Singapore. We do not know the exact age of Steven Law's daughters, but understand that they are not yet old enough to be involved in the family business.

Business Ventures in Burma
5. (C) According to Embassy contact Anwar Hussain (PROTECT), Steven Law's Asia World Group controls investments in Burma totaling more than $500 million. Although the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce classifies Asia World as a construction company, Hussain emphasized that Steven Law's company specializes in all sectors of trade, from shipping and transportation to manufacturing and sales. Established in 1992 to as an agricultural and animal feed products company, Asia World built the now defunct Equatorial Hotel in Rangoon, as well as several high-rise office buildings. In 1996, Steven Law partnered with Kuok Singapore Ltd., owned by Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok, to build several hotels in Rangoon, including Traders (owned and operated by Shangri-la Hotels), Shangri-la (a separate hotel which is not yet in operation despite completion of construction), and the Sedona Hotels in Rangoon and Mandalay. While the Chamber of Commerce lists the Traders and Sedona Hotels as 100 percent foreign owned, our contacts confirmed that Steven Law owns a percentage of the hotels in partnership with the Malaysian and Singaporean owners.

6. (C) Ref C detailed many of Asia World's infrastructure projects, including the construction of the Rangoon-Mandalay toll road, the Ngwe Saung Beach Resort road, and the Asia World Thilawa deep sea port. Asia World also operates the Leo Express bus line in Northern Burma. Hussain believes that Asia World also operates a shipping line that transports goods from Singapore to Rangoon. Hussain informed us that Steven Law's company also won the rights to rebuild the highway that connects Lashio in Shan State to Muse, on the China-Burma border.

7. (C) During the past six years, Asia World has branched into the manufacturing and retail sectors. According to U Soe Win, Chairman of financial consulting firm Myanmar Vigor (PROTECT), Steven Law owns several garment factories and palm oil processing plants in Hlain Tha Ya Industrial Park, several paper mills, Myanmar Brewery in Rangoon, and the Asia Light supermarket chain (which has stores in Rangoon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw).

8. (C) Below is a list of Burmese businesses that Steven Law is involved in:
--Asia World Co. Ltd. Address: 61-62 Bahosi Housing Warden Street, Lanmadaw Township, Rangoon. Telephone: 95-1-225-271. Steven Law and his family own the company.
--Asia Light Supermarket. Address: 61-62 Bahosi Housing Warden Street, Lanmadaw Township, Rangoon. Telephone: 95-1-225-271. Asia World owns this company. Cecilia Ng is the Managing Director.
--Asia World Industries Limited, Hlain Tha Ya Industrial Park, Rangoon. Steven Law owns this company.
--Asia World Thilawa Deep Sea Port.
--Hledon Centre Condominium. Address: Pyay Rd, Rangoon. Asia World is currently building this condominium.
--Traders Hotel. Address: 223 Sule Pagoda Rd., Rangoon. Telephone: 95-1-242-828. Asia World constructed the building and owns a percentage of the hotel in partnership with Kuok Singapore Ltd.
--Sedona Hotel. Address: No 1 Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd., Yankin Township, Rangoon. Telephone: 95-1-666-811. Asia World constructed the hotel and owns a percentage in partnership with Kuok Singapore Ltd.
--Sedona Hotel Mandalay. Address: No 1 Junction of 26th and 66th Streets, Chanayetharzan Township, Mandalay. Telephone: 95-2-364-88. Asia World constructed the hotel and owns a percentage in partnership with Kuok Singapore Ltd.
--Myanmar Brewery Ltd. Address: No 45, No 3 Trunk Road, Pyinmabin Industrial Complex, Mingalardon Township, Rangoon. Telephone: 95-1-244-877. Asia World owns this company in partnership with Singapore interests.

Business Ties to Singapore
9. (C) During the past 15 years, Asia World has cultivated a close relationship with several Singaporean companies. Hussain explained that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, approximately 70 percent of Singapore's investment in Burma was funneled through Law's Asia World. In addition to establishing real estate partnerships with Kuok Singapore Ltd., Steven Law teamed up with Sinmardev Consortium in 1997 to build an industrial park and port in Rangoon. Asia World curries favor from Singapore investors, Hussain asserted, so Steven Law can finance many of his business operations with loans from Singaporean banks.

10. (C) Soe Win echoed Hussain's comments, noting that Asia World does most of its banking in Singapore. Unlike the majority of Burmese who use United Overseas Bank (UOB) in Singapore, Steven Law maintains bank accounts in at least three Singaporean banks, including UOB, OCBC, and DBS banks.

(Note: Several banking and business contacts confirmed that UOB previously allowed Burmese citizens to open accounts in Singapore with relative ease; other banks had more requirements for Burmese citizens, making it difficult to open an account. End Note.) Soe Win intimated that Steven Law also holds dollar accounts with foreign banks based in Singapore, including HSBC.

11. (C) In addition to banking, Steven Law has opened several businesses in Singapore. According to our business contacts, Law operates three subsidiaries of Asia World out of Singapore, including Asia World Industries. Soe Win noted that Law and Ng also own Golden Aaron Pte. Ltd. oil corporation, S.H. Ng Trading Company, and Kokang Singapore Pte. Ltd (also known as Kokang Import Export Co. Ltd.).
Golden Aaron Pte. Ltd. signed three production sharing contracts with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise in 2004 and 2005 for onshore and offshore exploration. Golden Aaron Pte. Ltd. is located at 3 Shenton Way 10-01 Shenton House, Singapore 06805.

12. (C) DEA information lists the following as possible Singapore addresses for Steven Law:
--Apt Block 124 Geylang East Avenue 1, Unit 03-37, Singapore 1438.
--38 Lorong Marzuki, Unit 01-01, Singapore.
--Apt Block 7 Redhill Close, Unit 07-188, Singapore 0315.
--11 North Bridge Road, Unit 03-11, Singapore.

13. (C) According to DEA Rangoon, Steven Law also has economic interests in Thailand. He is allegedly involved with several Bangkok-based companies, such as Chaitanasarn Ltd. Co, Victory International Corporation, and the Kokang Import/Export Company.

Ties to the Regime
14. (C) Steven Law and his family have used their relationship with regime leaders to secure lucrative construction and trading contracts. In the 1990s, Law's father, Lo Hsing Han, was close to former Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and used this friendship to advance Asia World's legitimate and illegitimate operations. According to DEA Rangoon, Khin Nyunt give Lo Hsing Han a "concession" for heroin production and trade in return for his help brokering a cease fire agreement. Although Khin Nyunt was ousted in 2004, Law continues to have excellent relations with the senior generals. Close to Vice Senior General Maung Aye, Steven Law has also traveled with Senior General Than Shwe on trips to China and built Than Shwe's home in Nay Pyi Taw (Ref B). This relationship recently worked in Law's favor, as the regime rescinded its construction contract for the Rangoon-Mandalay road with Win Aung's Dagon International (Ref D), and reassigned it to Asia World.

Comment
15. (C) Both Steven Law and the regime continue to benefit from their close relationship. Our omission of Steven Law from the targeted sanctions list has drawn many questions from Burmese citizens, other diplomats, and journalists. Financially, he is a bigger player than Tay Za. Going after Steven Law's financial assets will be a strong signal of our seriousness in cutting off the regime's financing.​
 

DavidFL

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Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
"This just in" as they say on CNN................

I found it interesting that Naw Kham was convicted as having "colluded with Thai soldiers in the attack", yet I am unaware of any legal action being taken against any Thai soldier presumably so involved. I am similarly unaware even of any enquiry within Thailand into the Thai military despite the Chinese Court referring to the arrests following a "joint operation" that included Thai authorities. Its an interesting science how the Chinese must piece together their evidence.....the bodies were, after all, I understand, found shot with Thai Army issued bullets, fired, I assume from Thai issued weapons.

(Assistance Please: The photo included below, actually appears as a video on CNN - if those IT men out there, smarter than me (& there are very many of them) can copy the actual video acrooss it may be of interest to readers.)


Chinese court rejects appeal in Mekong River killings


By CNN Staff
December 26, 2012 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)

121226085435-vo-china-mekong-river-killings-00001702-story-top.jpg

Appeal in Mekong killings rejected

STORY HIGHLIGHTS



    • The court rejects the appeals by all six defendants
    • Four of the men had received death sentences
    • They were convicted in the October 2011 killings of 13 Chinese sailors

(CNN) -- A court in China's Yunnan Province on Wednesday rejected an appeal from six defendants convicted of killing 13 Chinese sailors, said the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Last month, the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming sentenced four of the men to death for the killings, which occurred in October 2011 on the Mekong River.
They were also ordered to pay compensation of 6 million yuan (about $960,000).
Read more: Chinese court sentences drug gang to death over river murders
One of the men is a drug lord identified as Naw Kham; the other three were members of his gang, Xinhua said.
Of the two other gang members, one received a death sentence with a reprieve and another was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Thai authorities discovered the murder scene after boarding two Chinese cargo ships that had come under gunfire.
They found nearly 1 million amphetamines and the 12 bodies, some with their hands bound. One sailor was missing.
The men had been charged with homicide, hijacking, kidnapping and drug trafficking.
The alleged gang was arrested in a joint operation by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, according to the state-run China Daily.
Five of the six men are from Myanmar, Thailand and Laos; one is stateless, Xinhua said.
Naw Kham's gang colluded with Thai soldiers in the attack on the cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, Xinhua said.
Naw Kham had also directed several of his subordinates in the kidnapping of Chinese sailors and hijacking of cargo ships in exchange for ransom in early April 2011, the court said.

The movie about it all is now out & banned in Thailand.
Whitewash at Chiang Saen

Some review comments
Though more sensationalistic than serious, this film has a scale and an energy that rivals any Hollywood blockbuster.
Respected Hong Kong director Dante Lam has not thrown out nuance and historical accuracy, he has crushed them and booted them into outer space
All those thrilling set-pieces may leave one feeling a little hollow inside; but for action film buffs, Christmas has come early.
'm not Chinese but Im guessing if I was, I'd really like this movie. Everything is very fast paced and the cheesy songs in the night clubs and yachts make it feel like it's the 1980s again. However, the scenery is not bad and the little details that piece together the situation are​
Operation Mekong

The Bangkok Post commentary & comment on the Thai soldiers is interesting
China and Thailand continue to gloss over just where those killers came from. For months, Chinese families of the victims protested, but then they went quiet. On Oct 28, 23 days after the massacre, Thailand arrested the 9 task Force soldiers, who have since disappeared from the justice system. Task Force Pa Muang commander Prakarn Chonlayuth went on to ever greater rank and successes, and last year, as a three-star general, he became 4th Army Region commander, in charge of all troops in the deep South.

Who's gonna get a copy of the movie first?
 
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