25 April 2012

1960s Thailand Heroin Trade


The Last Phoenix by Carl Douglass, 1997, Excerpts

In the 1960s when the Americans began to invade Southeast Asia in substantial numbers, the value of the trade crescendos sharply, and American military men became integrally involved in its transport. The American Central Intelligence Agency provided valuable conduits for the transportation in competition with the drug overlords and a certain amount of friction developed. The communists not only shared in the profits, but they made it easy for the Americans to pollute themselves as one more weapon in the hands of the weaker, but more determined nations. Even as the Thai government took steps to interdict the farming, trade, and traffic in opium in its country, the LPRP [Laotian People’s Revolutionary Party], the new rulers of Lao, took strong steps to increase its production, refineries, and market share.

Thailand was mainly a country of conduit for the massive amounts of opium produced in Southeast Asia. Burma produced some 500-600 tons in an average year, and as much as 3000-4000 tons in bumper crop years, Laos about 200 tons, and Thailand about 60 tons. The farmers who grew the poppies and did the backbreaking work harvesting the latex received less than a thousandth part of the billions of dollars the traffic eventually generated. A farmer was lucky to get $2000 a kilo for his backbreaking work. The vast majority of the heroin traffic moved from the Golden Triangle to Bangkok.

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