Drug Production and Trafficking by Burma Communist Party (Northeastern Region)

Drug Production and Trafficking by Burma Communist Party (Northeastern Region)

       A group led by Thakin Ba Thein Tin, an exiled Central Committee member of the Burma Communist Party attacked the Tatmadaw military bases in the Kokang region, northern Shan State on 1 January 1968. Thereafter the BCP tried to set up base camps in its northeastern military region. With the unrestricted aid given by neighbouring country in terms of cash, material, human resources, arms and ammunition, BCP was able to establish bases in the border areas within 5 years. These bases provided a foothold for the BCP. As poppy was mainly cultivated in these areas, BCP, since its involvement there had been engaged in drug trafficking, and it was able to do it without any difficulty as various armed insurgents in these areas were already doing so.

       BCP established various

military regions in the north and northeastern part of the country including

northeastern military region which comprised Monkoe area on the west and

Kokang and Wa areas on the east of Thanlwin River. Gradually, under these

military regions, administrative bodies at provincial, township, district

and village tract levels were formed and, through these bodies, taxes were

levied from the people. Since opium was produced in large scale in these

areas, in addition to the taxes collected on paddy, the farmers also had to

pay taxes on opium, which amounted to 20%’of the opium yielded. By 1978, the

tax rate was increased to 40 % of the opium produced, under the pretext of

taking measures towards eradication of poppy cultivation. The opium

collected as taxes were sent to the BCP Central through military regions,

where central trade department took charge of marketing. Provincial economic

department and military region central trade department usually sold a

certain amount of opium under their own arrangement.

        When Bago Yoma central

headquarters became defunct in 1975, Thakin Ba Thein Tin continued to act as

chairman while the Northeastern military region was constituted as central

headquarters. Though Chairman Ba Thein 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 heroin was secretly

made at the BCP central committee meeting held in 1979. The main reason

behind that decision was the decrease in 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

group, 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 been 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 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 4800 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 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 19821, 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. 71 narcotic drugs produced by BCP wei tran sported not only to the borders i Thailand and India, but these drugs wei also traded in the neighbouring Chin There were incidents where- BCP officia were caught in China together with drug.

       All in all BCP controlled the are, where poppy was mostly cultivated but had done nothing towards eradication narcotic drugs. Besides, from the vei beginning BCP was involved in collects taxes on trafficking of opium. When foreign assistance was cut off, BCP forces expandt their activities by producing and marketir 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 the Indian border through Kachin.Stai Moreover, BCP, with the assistance of other armed insurgent groups, transported tt narcotic drugs to the Thai border f( marketing. So it is noted that BCP, from tt time it secured foothold in the Northei Shan State in 1968 till its collapse in 198 had engaged in production and traffickip of opium and narcotic drugs as its maj economic enterprise.