Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia)

Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia)

The Golden Triangle is one of Asia's two main illicit opium-producing areas. It is an area of around 350,000 square kilometres that overlaps the mountains of four countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. (Other interpretations of the Golden Triangle also include a section of Yunnan Province, China.) Along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent and Pakistan, it has been one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of Asia and of the world since the 1950s. The Golden Triangle also designates the confluence of the Ruak River and the Mekong river, since the term has been appropriated by the Thai tourist industry to describe the nearby junction of Thailand, Laos, and Burma.

Opium and morphine base produced in northeastern Burma are transported by horse and donkey caravans to refineries along the Thailand–Burma border for conversion to heroin and heroin base. Most of the finished products are shipped across the border into various towns in North Thailand and down to Bangkok for further distribution to international markets. In the past major Thai Chinese and Burmese Chinese traffickers in Bangkok have controlled much of the foreign sales and movement of Southeast Asian heroin from Thailand, but a combination of law enforcement pressure, publicity and a regional drought has significantly reduced their role. As a consequence, many less-predominant traffickers in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand now control smaller quantities of the heroin going to international markets.

Heroin from Southeast Asia is most frequently brought to the United States by couriers, typically Thai and U.S. nationals and Hong Kong Chinese, travelling on commercial airlines. California and Hawaii are the primary U.S. entry points for Golden Triangle heroin, but small percentages of the drug are trafficked into New York City and Washington, D.C. While Southeast Asian groups have had success in trafficking heroin to the United States, they initially had difficulty arranging street level distribution. However, with the incarceration of Asian traffickers in American prisons during the 1970s, contacts between Asian and American prisoners developed. These contacts have allowed Southeast Asian traffickers access to individuals and organizations distributing heroin at the retail level. [ [ Chapter III Part 1: Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime] , America's Habit: Drug Abuse, Drug Trafficking, & Organized Crime—President's Commission on Organized Crime, 1986. ]

In recent years, the production has shifted to Ya Baa and other forms of methamphetamine, including for export to the United States.

Local names:
*Burmese: Shwe-Tri gan
*Thai: สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ
*Vietnamese: "Tam giác Vàng"


Burma (Myanmar) is the world's second largest producer of illicit opium, after Afghanistan (potential production in 1999—1,090 metric tonnes, down 38 percent due to drought; cultivation in 1999—895 km², a 31% decline from 1998). The surrender of drug warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army in January 1996 was hailed by Yangon as a major counternarcotics success, but lack of government will and ability to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort. Burma is becoming a major source of methamphetamine for regional consumption. Most of the tribespeople who are growing opium are living under the poverty line.

ee also

* Buddha's Lost Children, a documentary on a film about a Buddhist monk helping children in the area.
* Opium production in Afghanistan
* Opium Wars
* Imperialism in Asia
* Ike Atkinson


External links

* [ Geopium: Geopolitics of Illicit Drugs in Asia"]

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