The Golden Triangle is the second largest illicit opium producing area in the world following Afghanistan. Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand make up the triangle with the border between Myanmar and Thailand seeing the biggest flow of opium trade.
Despite efforts by America’s Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA and its related agencies to clamp down on opium production in the area 2011 is expected to see an influx of opium trade at the Myanmar-Thai border. Part of the problem lies with the lack of concrete action by governments to get rid of the drug trade.
Myanmar is not able to control areas belonging to ethnic minorities such as the Shan State.
The Shan State Army claims to be working hard to eradicate the opium trade. The DEA however has long accused the group of being a part of the trade. The army’s former leader General Khun Sa, was known as the King of Opium. During 1974-1994 he was believed to have dominated the trade of the drug.
Today the Shan State Army tries to show the world it has changed its face. After Khun Sa handed himself over to Myanmar in 1996, a new leader of the Shan State Army emerged when General Yawd Serk took over the fight against Myanmar’s military regime.To shed the poor image of the army’s involvement with the opium trade, he said the force was willing to cooperate with the DEA in eradicating the trade.
General Yawd Serk accuses the DEA of wanting the drug trade to continue to ensure they keep their jobs.The Shan State Army points the finger at Myanmar’s military. Despite the country’s clampdown on opium, 41 out of 52 targeted townships continue to grow poppy.
General Yawd Serk says the army gets funds from taxing farmers, gemstone mines, and by trading wood. He does however admit that opium farming continues as it is the only way for villagers to earn a living.
The Shan Army says more funding is needed to provide an alternative way to make money for famers who are tempted by the profits made from the drug trade whether it is through dealings with the Myanmar military, other ethnic militias, or perhaps even Thai authorities.
So are the Shan Army really helping with the drug war?
Or are they part of the trade themselves? Well the answer is never really there.
All we do know is that the boom in the drug trade in the Golden Triangle is at an increase and there still is question as to who is involved?
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