Loimaw Defense Group led by U Khun Sa

U Khun Sa, a Chinese/Shan born in 1939, left for Taiwan in 1958 and came back Tin never admitted the existence of BCP's opium and narcotic drug business, in practice, the decision to expand their opium trade and to produce and sell morphine base and heroin was secretly made at the BCP central committee meeting held in 1979. The main reason behind that decision was the decrease m aid received from across the border. At the BCP party congress held in 1985, it was concluded that the decision was wrong but it was too late to put a stop to the narcotic drug business as it had already spread out in large scale and, the insurgent groups, for their livelihood, had to seek their own funds in the absence of outside aid. Although BCP Central admitted its involvement in the drug business only after 1979, those at the lower level had keen engaged in this business much earlier than that. In 1973-74, Loimaw U Khun Sa group sold the heroin they manufactured to the BCP Northeastern military region, and the latter, through Monkoe in the west of Ayeyarwaddy River, transported to Kachin State, India and Pakistan. Consequently, the BCP lower level cadres took interest in the heroin business and started manufacturing and selling heroin under- the trademark of Globe brand, the one used by U Khun Sa which was already widely known in the market. Later, everyone who produced heroin used the Globe brand trademark.

Monkoe area of BCP west of Ayeyarwaddy became northern divisional headquarters of the BCP in 1981. Commanders of the No. (2) division, under the command of the BCP northern divisional headquarters, manufactured heroin on a large scale at a livestock breeding farm in Mongpaw township where BCP No. (2) division headquarters was located. Later, those BCP commanders, who could afford to invest became involved in this business and numerous heroin factories were built. In Monkoe area alone nearly 1300 kg of opium was collected yearly as tax, so it was estimated that about 3200 kg of opium was produced yearly. If the opium produced in the area were insufficient, the heroin manufacturers would normally buy some morphine base from BCP Central and other areas and refine it into heroin.

In 1983, an agreement was reached between the leaders of BCP Central divisional headquarters and SSA to jointly establish a factory to produce morphine base. They agreed to invest a total of Kyats 5 lakhs, with 2 .5 lakhs from each side, to construct the factory near the east of Namlan-Thibaw road, to recruit a technician from Lashio and to obtain necessary chemicals from central Myanmar. It was also agreed that SSA was to take responsibility in obtaining raw opium and BCP to take charge of providing security for the factory and to market the morphine base produced. The factory was constructed as planned and commenced its operation in 1984.

In accordance with the secret decision of 1979 BCP central committee meeting, BCP Central also constructed a morphine base factory in its Northeastern military region near Pan Phein village during the early part of 1980.

Pan Phein factory, under the direct control of BCP Central, produced and marketed about 4S00 kg of morphine base from 1980 to 1985. The factory also manufactured heroin which, together with morphine base produced, was transported directly by armed groups to the Thai border, apart from selling to KMT remnants and foreign opium traffickers who came to collect at Pan San. BCP forces attacked the MTA forces of U Khun Sa and occupied the Loi Lang area in 1980. After occupying Loi Lang, BCP was able to move freely from Shan State North to South up to the Thai border and used this route for transporting opium without any hindrance. A battalion from BCP (48) division, in 1982, carried morphine base and heroin produced from Pan Phein factory to the Thai border and sold the products there. They brought in gold bars, watches, radios and cassettes on their return. In many instances armed insurgents transporting drugs to the Thai border clashed with Tatmadaw military columns and the drugs together with arms were confiscated.

It can be seen that BCP had carefully planned and was deeply involved in drug business by manufacturing and transporting the drugs to the border areas for marketing, all on its own. From the lowest to the top echelons of BCP, drug business was conducted in large scale throughout its territory. Even among members of BCP, there were people who became addicted to drugs and some of them died due to overdose. On the other hand, local people became enraged as BCP was also involved in selling drugs to the general populace. The narcotic drugs produced by BCP were transported not only to the borders of Thailand and India, but these drugs were also traded in the neighbouring China. There were incidents where BCP officials were caught in China together with drugs.

All in all BCP controlled the areas where poppy was mostly cultivated but it had done nothing towards eradication of narcotic drugs. Besides, from the very beginning BCP was involved in collecting taxes on trafficking of opium. When foreign assistance was cut off, BCP forces expanded their activities by producing and marketing the heroin, under the supervision of the BCP headquarters. They linked up with the remnants of the KMT No. 3 battalion to sell the drugs and transported the products to the Indian border through Kachin State. Moreover, BCP, with the assistance of other armed insurgent groups, transported the narcotic drugs to the Thai border for marketing. So it is noted that BCP, from the time it secured foothold in the Northern Shan State in 1968 till its collapse in 1989, had engaged in production and trafficking of opium and narcotic drugs as its main economic enterprise.