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Bumper Crop of Opium Portends Major Heroin Surplus


April 1993

An anticipated bumper crop of opium from Southeast Asia's famed Golden Triangle portends a major influx of heroin to U.S. and European markets later this year (Denis Gray, AP, "More Travel Routes Anticipated For Heroin Surplus," Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C., 3/28/93, A6).

More than 2500 tons of opium is expected from the Golden Triangle this year, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press. Anti-narcotic officials say that in addition to the huge production increase, a multiplicity of new export routes have been developed to move the opium or heroin once it has left the tri-border region of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Burma remains the world's primary opium grower. China, India, Bangladesh, and especially Vietnam are expected to play important roles as transit countries. Thailand, however, remains the primary transit country for Golden Triangle narcotics.

A U.S. narcotics agent cited in the story observed that after a decade-long absence, he returned to Bangkok, Thailand only to find that the list of "most wanted" drug traffickers was virtually the same as a decade ago. U.S. Ambassador David Lambertson recently told Thai narcotics officials that "the sad reality is that we have too long targeted our law enforcement efforts against low-level narcotics users and couriers" and that only by stopping the top traffickers would progress be made.