[IWAR] BURMA Opium lord

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Wed Nov 26 1997 - 16:39:09 PST

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                    Opium warlord said under tight security in Burma
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       CHIANG MAI, Thailand (November 26, 1997 12:35 p.m. EST
       http://www.nando.net) - Former Golden Triangle opium warlord Khun Sa was
       reportedly moved to a military compound Wednesday after the Burmese
       government said U.S. officials were trying to nab him.
       Khun Sa, who surrendered to Burmese troops in January 1996, is wanted by
       the United States where he has been indicted on various counts of drug
       Thai narcotics officers and sources close to Khun Sa said Burma's
       military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC),
       decided to shift him from his lakeside villa to protect him from U.S.
       Khun Sa's associates and Thai narcotics officials said he was moved
       after Washington began an investigation into $600 million of laundered
       money that was believed to be circulating in Burmese business areas.
       U.S. officials in Bangkok would not comment and U.S. embassy officials
       could not be reached in Burma's capital, Rangoon.
       One of Khun Sa's aides, speaking to Reuters in this northern Thai city,
       said: "The Burmese claimed that the Americans were trying to snatch him
       so they urged (Khun Sa) to leave the lakeside villa and go to the
       (military) compound near (Rangoon's) airport."
       He quoted Khun Sa's third wife, who returned from a visit to Rangoon, as
       saying the former opium warlord was healthy but had confined himself to
       the military intelligence compound.
       A source in a Thai narcotics agency based in Chiang Mai confirmed the
       "We heard that the Burmese relocated him to a safe place after the
       United States started investigating some $600 million laundering money
       that was circulating in Burma," he said.
       The former Burmese government, the State Law and Order Restoration
       Council (SLORC), refused to extradite Khun Sa after his surrender,
       saying it would deal with Khun Sa under Burmese law.
       The SPDC, whose formation earlier this month abolished the SLORC, has
       given no signs of a change in policy.
       Khun Sa is the former commander of the now-defunct Mong Tai Army (MTA).
       He used to command more than 20,000 guerrillas and portrayed himself as
       a freedom fighter but international drug agencies accused him of using
       the MTA to protect his heroin business in the Golden Triangle.
       The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the Golden Triangle, where
       Burma, Laos and Thailand meet, produces about 70 percent of all heroin
       reaching the United States.
       Khun Sa's associate said the Burmese government would allow only family
       members to visit him.
       "He has four living wives, one in Chiang Mai, two in Mai Sai and one
       lives in Burma's (town of) Tachilek. These wives rotate in visiting
       him," he said.
       Khun Sa has four daughters and five sons, four of whom oversee Khun Sa's
       various businesses in Burma.
       A Thai narcotics official said two of Khun Sa's sons were now
       cooperating with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in the heroin business.
       The UWSA is a former rebel group that struck a cease-fire with the
       Burmese military in the early 1990s. A former rival to Khun Sa, it has
       controlled opium growing and heroin production in the Golden Triangle
       since he surrendered.
       "The UWSA now dominate the drug business in Shan State and has overrun
       all of Khun Sa's bases and his sons are now joining them," the Thai
       narcotics source said.
       Narcotics sources estimate that the UWSA operates between 16 to 20
       heroin factories in Shan State near Thai border.
       "These factories produce not less than 350 kg (770 pounds) (of heroin)
       per month," the source said.
       By SUTIN WANNABOVORN, Reuters

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