24. THE DRUG WARLORD OF BURMA -- AN UNLIKELY WHISTLEBLOWER

In 1987, author Lance Trimmer, adventurer Lt. Col. (Ret) James "Bo" Gritz, and video camera operator Barry Flynn secretly entered the Golden Triangle in Burma where they interviewed Gen. Khun Sa, the reputed "drug warlord of Burma."

Trimmer brought back an extraordinary story of political intrigue, which, if true, supports the Christic Institute's suit about the "Secret Team" and documents a lost opportunity in America's fight against drugs. Following is his story as reported in the Summer 1988 issue of Earth Island Journal.

Khun Sa has been called "the world's biggest heroin dealer." US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials have called him "the worst criminal the world has seen." Khun Sa was responsible for the shipment of more than 1200 tons of the world's illegal heroin in 1988. But to some people in Thailand and Burma, he's called "a modern day Robin Hood." He heads the 40,000-strong Mong Tai army which has been engaged in a decades-long civil war with the ruling communist Burmese government.

Trimmer says he and Bo met with Khun Sa who showed them his camp. He told them, "I don't like drugs. I never have and my people don't use drugs." But they have always grown poppies. They grow the poppy now to make heroin. That's the only crop that is money-making. Khun Sa also said he has been trying to eliminate opium for the past 15 years. When asked who he sells his drugs to, Khun Sa named US American officials as his best customers. Trimmer writes "We now know that this is how they finance these little covert wars all over the world that Congress won't finance for them. Where else can they make the most money with the least amount of work? It's drugs. That what they used to arm the Lao, the Shah of Iran, and the contras in Central America.

Trimmer says that Khun Sa named some of the same individuals who were cited in the Christic Institute's "Secret Team" who financed secret "anti-communist" wars around the world.

Equally surprising, Trimmer said that Khun Sa repeated a message that he sent to President Reagan in November, 1986, saying he would stop "every ounce" of the 900 tons of heroin headed out of Burma in 1987. His conditions were virtually the same ones he proposed to Congressman Lester Wolff during Wolff's visit to Thailand in April 1977.

Khun Sa's "Six Year Drugs Eradication Plan" asks that the US send experts to help establish a crop substitution program, make trade agreements to help legitimize the Shan economy, and provide financial aid equal to one-tenth of the funds now being spent on drug suppression.

Despite the fact that Khun Sa has been making this same offer for twelve years now, the DEA, the State Department, and the White House have refused to even acknowledge the offer.

SOURCE:

EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL, Summer 1988, "Report from Burma's Golden Triangle: Environmental Devastation Along the Heroin Highway," by Lance Trimmer, pp 36-38.