Thailand lies in the so-called 'Golden Triangle' -- an area bordering on Burma and Laos -- where about five-hundred tons of opium are produced each year.
Thailand lies in the so-called 'Golden Triangle' -- an area bordering on Burma and Laos -- where about five-hundred tons of opium are produced each year. But Thailand, which accounts for about ten per cent of the opium crop, has begun to crack down on drug trafficking. Prime Minister Kriangsak Chaman and recently announced that "a massive infusion of funds and energy" was needed to combat the narcotics trade. And the Thai anti-drug campaign is in full swing -- with the army burning heroin which has been seized in recent years.
SYNOPSIS: About two tons of the opium derivative was unloaded by Thai troops on Wednesday (31 January), ready to be burnt in an army compound near Bangkok. The drug, worth about five hundred million U.S. dollars on the American and European markets was seized over the past decade.
Heroin is worth four times its weight in gold on the streets, but it is the last link in the traffic-chain where the highest profits are to be made. One kilogramme (2.2. pounds) of opium sells for about fifty dollars (U.S.) in the "Golden Triangle". It converts to roughly one-hundred grams (3.5 ounces) of heroin, which is worth four-hundred (U.S.) dollars in Bangkok.
But for the farmers on the Thai border, growing poppies is still far more profitable than any other crop. The traffickers supply the seeds, and collect the poppy harvest. But the huge profits breed corruption. Reports from various countries suggest even the law enforcement agencies themselves have sometimes become links in the trafficking chain.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Kriangsak arrived to personally set the drugs alight. And to commemorate the occasion, he was presented with a painting of a poppy.
But there are drawbacks in destroying drugs. Whenever a large consignment is seized, black market prices invariably rise and many users may have to turn to crime to satisfy their dependence. Columbia is the United States' largest drug suppliers and its President, Julio Turbay, told American: "If you abandon illegal drugs, the traffic will disappear."