After the Thai government and the United Nations eradicated the poppy fields, the Golden Triangle now tries its luck by opening up two new casinos in the tri-border region of Burma, Thailand and Laos.
The tri-border region of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) was inhabited by hill tribes, mainly people who migrated from the Yunnan and South China some centuries ago.
When Mao Tse Tung's red army swept southwards through Yunnan, almost ten thousand men from the Nationalist Kuo Ming Tang fled into this region. These men from the Nationalist 93rd Infantry was led by a General Khun Sa.
In the 60's, especially when Vietnam and North Korea turned to communism, the fear of a domino effect on countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia forced the US to mount clandestine operations to fund and arm Khun Sa, thinking that he would be their front line to stop the communist advance.
Instead, Khunsa took over the tri-border region and started to cultivate and manufacture opium / heroin on a massive scale.
With the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, the US together with most of the european countries faced massive drug and drug related problems in their city, the origin of the drugs from US funded poppy fields of general Khun Sa. A wave of HIV/AIDS hit these countries due to the practice of needle sharing by addicts.
The US indcited Khun Sa in a New York Court and he faces at leat 10 lifetime sentences. Khun Sa became notoriously known as the Prince of Death of the Golden Triangle. Heroin processed in Southeast Asia is five times more potent, easier to smoke and a possible replacement for crack.
In 1969, he was captured by the Burmese government but was release in 1973 in exchange for two Russian doctors. He then consolidated his opium empire and began fighting for Shan autonomy against the Burmese government.
In 1984, the Royal Thai Army, forced Khun Sa's army out of Thailand. In 1996, Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese government. At that time he was the most wanted man in the world with a price of US2 million reward for his arrest.
The Burmese Government refused to extradite him, probably striking a highly profitable deal with him. Khun Sa is rumoured to have died in 2007 and has left substantial fortune and businesses in Maynmar.
Presently, the Thai government together with the UN International Drug Control Program have eradicated the poppy fields and replaced them with tea, coffee and tobacco plantations.
But, the Golden Triangle may still relive part of its past reputation for notoriety with two new casinos opening up at the tri-border region.
tankaiswee. (March 14, 2012). The Golden Triangle: From Opium to Casinos. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from EngageMedia Web site: https://www.engagemedia.org/Members/tankaiswee/videos/from_opium_to_casinos.