Loimaw Defense Group led by U Khun Sa

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.