Hunt for Khun Sa: Drug Lord of the Golden Triangle

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Hunt for Khun Sa: Drug Lord of the Golden Triangle

Hunt for Khun Sa: Drug Lord of the Golden Triangle

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Khun Sa was a guerrilla leader in the separatist movement of the Shan, an ethnic group linguistically related to the Thais, who inhabit northeast Myanmar. His drug empire traded opium for guns and used the weapons to consolidate his control over large swaths of the rugged, remote and impoverished Shan region. Khun Sa's reign came to an end in January 1996 when a battalion of Burmese soldiers advanced on his stronghold in eastern Myanmar. He had no escape routes. Rival drug lords and Wa fighters held the territory to the east. To the north was China and to the south was Thailand, both of which wanted nothing to do with the drug lord. Also by this time the Myanmar government had reached a peace agreement with ,many of Myanmar’s insurgency movements which allowed the Myanmar military regime to concentrate their efforts on Khun Sa. The KMT rapidly took over and expanded the opium trade in the region, but Chan Chi-fu and his gang gradually began to exert their influence during the 1960s. After a combined Thai and Kuomintang army defeated entrenched Communist rebels in Northwest Thailand in 1981. American officials began to pressure the Thai government to expel Khun Sa.

Just on time and in time the driver was at the table to take me north, eating whatever scraps off the plates he could find, even some off empty adjoining tables, all the while making a series of "you dog" side glances toward me and the girl. They talked between themselves for a few minutes with me thinking at first he was hoping to get in on a little 14 year old action himself, but I think what they talked about was what really happened as he seemed to change his demeanor towards me in a more positive manner. He said the girl wanted to come with us, but I said no and soon the driver and I were on the road. Several soldiers from the Burmese army were tasked to rescue the doctors. Unfortunately, the plan failed. During one of those meetings I told her that on that particular afternoon, as soon as we were done with our tea, I would be heading out to Cabo San Lucas for a few days to stay at a hotel resort located basically right on the tip of Baja California called the Twin Dolphin owned by a friend of mine, David J. Halliburton, Sr. Embellishing the story a bit, although still true, I told her that one of Halliburton's first loves was a niece of my Stepmother who was babysitting me for the summer, a girl he always held in high regard. In turn Halliburton made it a point to ensure my stay at the Twin Dolphin was always special. With that Madame Ky said she wanted to go too. So she did, the two of us spending several days or more together at the Twin Dolphin. General Ky, thinking of me more as a monk and apparently slipping his mind that I was a onetime G.I., it presented no problem. Hah! In his early life Khun Sa received military equipment and training from both the Kuomintang and Burmese Army before claiming to fight for the independence of Shan State and going on to establish his own independent territory. He was dubbed the "Opium King" in Myanmar due to his massive opium smuggling operations in the Golden Triangle, where he was the dominant opium warlord from approximately 1976 to 1996. Although the American ambassador to Thailand called him "the worst enemy the world has", he successfully co-opted the support of both the Thai and Burmese governments at various times. After the American Drug Enforcement Administration uncovered and broke the link between Khun Sa and his foreign brokers, he "surrendered" to the Burmese government in 1996, disbanding his army and moving to Yangon with his wealth and mistresses. After his retirement some of his forces refused to surrender and continued fighting the government, but he engaged in "legitimate" business projects, especially mining and construction. He died in 2007 at the age of 73. Today, his children are prominent businesspeople in Myanmar.Sumondis, Pummarai, Veera Prateepchaikul, and Supradit Kanwanich. "The Battle Against the Opium Warlord". Bangkok Post. January 31, 1982, pp.20–21.

A historian of Southeast Asia, the late Michael Leifer, described him as a “shiftless youth with a criminal disposition.”His early career was marked by failure. He challenged the dominance of the Nationalists in the Golden Triangle drug trade, but lost in battle. He was captured by the Burmese central government and imprisoned from 1969 to 1974. As far a Mong La itself is concerned, being compared with Mos Eisley, or perhaps even the cities as seen in Bladerunner or the early scenes of the Fifth Element, movies all, they are some writers thought up view of what someplace like what they are trying to depict would be like. In real life I don't think any writer, producer, director or actor would step foot in Mong La alone without a whole lot of a protective entourage. Without any knowledge of how things work a person can and will sometimes, just disappear. (see) Bert Lintner wrote on Asia Online: Khun Sa was born in 1934 in a small village in Northern Shan State to an ethnic Shan mother and a Chinese father. He grew up as an orphan as his father died when he was only three. His mother remarried the local tax collector of the small town of Mong Tawm, but two years later she died as well. While his three stepbrothers went to missionary schools and were given the Christian names Oscar, Billy and Morgan, the young Khun Sa was raised by his Chinese grandfather amid the poppy fields of Loi Maw mountain in northern Shan state. His only formal education consisted of a few years as a temple boy in a Buddhist monastery. During one of our interviews, I noticed that all his correspondence had to be read to him and that his replies were dictated. (Source: Bert Lintner, Asia Online, November 1, 2007) If you’re in a bad situation, such as a fire, robbery, or car accident, don’t hesitate to shout this word for help. 2 – ช่วยเรียกรถพยาบาลหน่อย

Additionally, after his release, Khun sa went underground and reformed his forces in Ban Hin Taek. He renamed his group the Shan United Army. In 1994, it was estimated that Khun Sa and the United Wa State Army controlled 75 percent of the heroin originating in the Golden Triangle. A Panthay Chinese Muslim from Burma, Ma Zhengwen, assisted Khun Sa in selling his heroin in north Thailand. In 1996, Khun Sa retired and the United Wa State Army took over many of the areas he controlled.

4. Basic Thai Phrases for Dining

Khun Sa’s old camp has been turned into a museum for tourists to appreciate some of the history of the Golden Triangle. By the 1980s officials estimated that Khun Sa controlled more than half of the opium going through the Golden Triangle - which in turn was said to account for half the world's heroin. Khun Sa was born on 17 February 1934. Khun was born in Hpa Hpeung Village, Northern Shan State, Burma. Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal VIEW

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