-Caveat Lector-

an excerpt from:
Editors of RAMPARTS Magazine and Frank Browning
Noah's Ark, Inc©1972
Harrow Books
Harper & Row
LCCN 75-187046
212 pps. - First Edition - Out-of-print

The CIA and the New Opium War

by Frank Browning and
Banning Garrett

Banning Garrett is Asian editor for Ramparts magazine, Frank Browning is an
associate editor of Ramparts. Reprinted from Ramparts (May 1971). Researchers
for the report were Michael Aldrich, Adam Bennion, and Joan Medlin. Special
thanks go to author Peter Scott for permission to draw on unpublished
material regarding Laos and the China Lobby.

"Mr. President, the specter of heroin addiction is haunting nearly every
community in the nation." With these urgent words, Senator Vance Hartke spoke
up on March 2, 1971, in support of a resolution on drug control being
considered in the U.S. Senate. Estimating that there are 500,000 heroin
addicts in the U.S., he pointed out that nearly 20 percent of them are
teen-agers. The concern of Hartke and others is not misplaced. Heroin has
become the major killer of young people between eighteen and thirty-five,
outpacing death from accidents, suicides, or cancer. It has also become a
major cause of crime: to sustain their habits, addicts in the U.S. spend more
than $15 million a day, half of it coming from the 55 percent of crime in the
cities which they commit and the annual $2.5 billion worth of goods they

Once safely isolated as part of the destructive funkiness of the black
ghetto, heroin has suddenly spread out into Middle America, becoming as much
a part of suburbia as the Saturday barbecue. This has gained it the attention
it otherwise never would have had. President Nixon himself says it is
spreading with "pandemic virulence." People are becoming: aware that
teen-agers are shooting up at lunchtime in schools and returning to
classrooms to nod the day away. But what they don't know—and what no one is
telling them—is that neither the volcanic eruption of addiction in this
country nor the crimes it causes would be possible without the age-old
international trade in opium (from which heroin is derived), or that heroin
addiction—like inflation, unemployment and most of the other chaotic forces
in American society today—is directly related to the U.S. war in Indochina.

The connection between war and opium in Asia is as old as empire itself. But
the relationship has never been so symbiotic, so intricate in its networks,
and so vast in its implications. Never before has the trail of tragedy been
so clearly marked as in the present phase of U.S. involvement in Southeast
Asia. For the international traffic in opium has expanded in lock step. with
the expanding U.S. military presence there, just as heroin has stalked the
same young people in U.S. high schools who will also be called on to fight
that war. The ironies that have accompanied the war in Vietnam since its
onset are more poignant than before. At the very moment that public officials
are wringing their hands over the heroin problem, Washington's own Cold War
crusade, replete with clandestine activities that would seem far-fetched even
in a spy novel, continues to play a major role in a process that has already
rerouted the opium traffic from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and is
every day opening new channels for its shipment to the U.S. At the same time
the government starts crash programs to rehabilitate drug users among its
young people, the young soldiers it is sending to Vietnam are getting booked
and dying of overdoses at the rate of one a day. While the President is
declaring war on narcotics and on crime in the streets, be is widening the
war in Laos, whose principal product is opium and which has now become the
funnel for nearly half the world's supply of the narcotic, for which the U.S.
is the chief consumer.

There would have been a bloodthirsty logic behind the expansion of the war
into Laos if the thrust bad been to seize supply centers of opium the
Communists were hoarding up to spread like a deadly virus into the free
world. But the Communists did not control the opium there: processing and
distribution were already in the hands of the free world. Who are the
principals of this new opium war? The ubiquitous CIA, whose role in getting
the U.S. into Vietnam is well known but whose pivotal position in the opium
trade is not; and a rogues' gallery of organizations and people-from an opium
army subsidized by the Nationalist Chinese to such familiar names as Madame
Nhu and Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky—who are the creations of U.S. policy in t
hat part of the world.

The story of opium in Southeast Asia is a strange one at every turn. But the
conclusion is known in advance: this war has come home again—in a silky gray
powder that goes from a syringe into America's mainline.

Most of the opium in Southeast Asia is grown in a region known as the Fertile
Triangle, an area covering northwestern Burma, northern Thailand, and Laos.
It is a mountainous jungle inhabited by tigers, elephants, and some of the
most poisonous snakes in the world. The source of the opium that shares the
area with these exotic animals is the poppy, and the main growers are the Meo
hill tribespeople who inhabit the region. The Meo men chop back the forests
in the wet season so that the crop can be planted in August and September.
Poppies produce red, white, or purple blossoms between January and March, and
when the blossom withers, an egg-sized pod is left. The women harvest the
crop and make a small incision in the pod with a three-bladed knife. The pod
exudes a white latex-like substance, which is left to accumulate and thicken
for a day or two. Then it is carefully gathered, boiled to remove gross
impurities, and the sticky substance is rolled into balls weighing several
pounds. A fraction of the opium remains to be smoked by the villagers, but
most is sold in nearby rendezvous with the local smugglers.  It is the Meos'
only cash crop. The hill tribe growers can collect as much as $50 per kilo,
paid in gold, silver, various commodities, or local currency. The same kilo
will bring $200 in Saigon and $2,000 in San Francisco.

There are hundreds of routes, and certainly as many methods of transport by
which the smugglers ship opium-some of it already refined into heroin
-through and out of Southeast Asia. But there are three major networks. Some
of the opium from Burma and northern Thailand moves into Bangkok, then to
Singapore and Hong Kong, then via military aircraft, either directly or
through Taiwan, to the United States. The second, and probably major, route
is from Burma or Laos to Saigon or to ocean drops in the Gulf of Siam; then
it goes either through the Middle East and Marseilles to the U.S. or through
Hong Kong and Singapore to the West Coast. A final route runs directly from
outposts held by Nationalist Chinese troops in Thailand to Taiwan and then to
the U.S. by a variety of means.

One of the most successful of the opium entrepreneurs who travel these
routes, a Time, reporter wrote in 1967, is Chan Chi-foo, a half-Chinese,
half-Shan (Burmese) modern-day warlord who might have stepped out of a Joseph
Conrad adventure yam. Chan is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered man in his late
thirties who, it is said, is totally ruthless. He has tremendous knowledge of
the geography and people of northwestern Burma and is said to move easily
among them, conversing in several dialects. Yet be is also able to deal
comfortably with the bankers and other businessmen who finance his operations
from such centers as Bangkok and Vientiane. Under Chan Chi-foo's command are
from 1,000 to 2,000 well-armed men, with the feudal hierarchy spreading down
to encompass another 3,000 hill tribesmen, porters, hunters, and opium
growers who pay him fealty and whom he regards about the same as the more
than 500 small mules he uses for transport.

Moving the, opium from Burma to Thailand or Laos is a big and dangerous
operation. One of Chan's caravans, says one awe-struck observer, may stretch
in single file for well over a mile, and may include 200 mules, 200 porters,
200 cooks and camp attendants, and about 400 armed guards. Such a caravan can
easily carry 15 to 20 tons of-opium, worth nearly a million dollars when
delivered to syndicate men in Laos or Thailand.

To get his caravans to market, however, Chan must pay a price, for the
crucial part of his route is heavily patrolled not by Thais or Laotians but
by nomadic Nationalist Chinese or Kuomintang (KMT) troops. Still supported by
the ruling KMT on Taiwan, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek!s 93d Division
controls a major part of the opium flowing out of Burma and Thailand. Roving
bands of mercenary bandits, they fled to northern Burma in 1949 as Chiang's
armies were being routed on the Chinese mainland, and have maintained
themselves since by buying opium from the nearby Meo tribesmen which they then
 resell, or by exacting tribute payments from entrepreneurs like Chan
Chi-foo. As travelers to the area attest, these troops also supplement their
income by running Intelligence operations into China and Burma for the US.

The Burmese government regularly complained about all this activity to the
United Nations, the Taiwan government, and the United States, charging the
Americans and Taiwanese with actively supplying and supporting the KMT, which
in turn has organizcd antigovernment guerrillas. In 1959 Burmese ground
troops seized three opium-processing plants set up by the KMT guerrillas at
Wanton; the troops also took an airstrip the Chinese had used to fly in
reinforcements. By February 1961 the Burmese had pushed the KMT troops
southeast into the Thai-Burmese and Thai-Laotian border areas, where they now
hold at least eight village bases. Just last year a reporter was at Chieng
Mai, Thailand, saw Thai troops and American advisers as well as military
supplies provided by the Taiwan government. The Taiwan government, he noted,
maintains an information office there and regularly accompanies the KMT
troops on their forays into China to proselytize among the peasants of Yunnan
province, These sorties are coordinated by the CIA (which is feverishly
active if not wholly successful in this area), and the United States even
provides its own backwater R&R for the weary KMT, flying its helicopters from
hilltop to hilltop to pick up the Chinese (and the Establishment reporter who
supplied this information) for organized basketball tournaments.

Although the KMT troops are often referred to as "remnants," they are not
just debris left behind by history. They are in fact an important link in
American and Taiwan policy toward Communist China. Not only does Chiang
Kai-shek maintain direct contact with his old 93d, but fresh recruits are
frequently sent to maintain a troop level of from 5,000 to 7,000 men,
according to a top-ranking foreign aid official in the U.S. government. And,
as the New York Times has noted, Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-Kuo, is
widely believed to be in charge of the KMT operations from his position as
chief of the Taiwan secret police.

The KMT are tolerated by the Thais for several reasons: they have helped in
the counterinsurgency efforts of the Thai and U.S. governments against the
bill tribespeople in Thailand; they have aided the training and recruiting of
Burmese guerrilla armies for the CIA; and they offer a payoff to the Border
Patrol Police (BPP), and through them to the second most powerful man in
Thailand, Minister of the Interior General Prapasx Charusathira. The BPP were
trained in the fifties by the CIA and now are financed and advised by AID and
are flown from border village to border village by Air America. The BPP act
as middlemen in the opium trade between the KMT in the remote regions of
Thailand and the Chinese merchants of Bangkok. These relationships, of
course, are flexible and changing, with each group wanting to maximize
profits and minimize antagonisms and dangers. But the established routes
vary, and sometimes double crosses are intentional.

In the summer of 1967 Chan Chi-foo set out from Burma through the KMT`s
territory with 300 men and 200 packhorses carrying nine tons of opium, with
no intention of paying the usual fee of $80,000 protection money. But troops
cut off the group near the Laotian village of Ban Houei Sai in an ambush that
turned into a pitched battle. Neither group, however, bad counted on the
involvement of the kingpin of the area's opium trade: the CIA-backed Royal
Lao government army and air force, under the command of General Ouane
Rathikoune. Hearing of the skirmish, the general pulled his armed forces out
of the Plain of jars in northeastern Laos, where they were supposed to be
fighting the Pathet Lao guerrillas, and engaged two companies and his entire
air force in a battle of extermination against both sides. The result was
nearly. 30 KMT and Burmese dead and a half-ton windfall of opium for the
Royal Lao governmenL

In a moment of revealing frankness shortly after the battle, General
Rathikoune, far from denying the role that opium bad played, told several
reporters that the opium trade was "not bad for Laos." The trade provides
cash income for the Meo hill tribes, be argued, who would otherwise be
penniless and therefore a threat to Laos' political stability. He also argued
that the trade gives the Lao elite (which includes government officials) a
chance to accumulate capital to ultimately invest in legitimate enterprises,
thus building up Laos' economy. But if these rationalizations seemed weak,
far less convincing was the General's assertion that, since he is in total
control of the trade now, when the time comes to put an end to it he will
simply put an end to it.

It is unlikely that Rathikoune, one of the chief warlords of the opium
dynasty, will decide to end the trade soon. Right outside the village of Ban
Houei Sai, hidden in the jungle, are several of his refineries—called
"cookers"—which manufacture crude morphine (which is refined into heroin at a
later transport point) under the supervision of professional pharmacists
imported from Bangkok. Rathikoune also has "cookers" in the nearby villages
of Ban Khwan, Phan Phung, and Ban Kheung (the latter for opium grown by the
Yao tribe). Most of the opium be procures comes from Burma in caravans such
as Chan Chi-foo's; the rest comes from Thailand or from the hill tribespeople
(Meo and Yao) in the area near Ban Houei Sai. Rathikoune flies the dope from
the Ban Houei Sai area to Luang Prabang, the Royalist capital, in helicopters
given by the United States military aid program.

Others in the Lao elite and government own refineries. There are cookers for
heroin in Vientiane, two blocks from the king's residence; near Luang
Prabang, on Khong Island in the Mekong River on the Lao-Cambodian border; and
one recently built by Kouprasith Abhay (bead of the military region around
Vientiane, but also from the powerful Abbay family of Khong Island) at Phou
Khao Khouai, just north of Vientiane. Other Lords of the Trade are Prince
Boun Oum of Southern Laos, and the San. anikone family, called the
"Rockefellers of Laos." Phoui Sananikone, the clan patriarch, beaded a U.S,
backed coup in 1959 and is presently president of the National Assembly. Two
other Sananikones are deputies in the Assembly, two are generals (one is
chief of staff for Rathikoune), one is minister of public works, and a host
of others are to be found at lower levels of the political, military, and
civil service structure. And the Sananikones' airline, Veha Akhat, leases
planes and pilots from Taiwan for paramilitary operations which lend
themselves easily to commerce with opium-growing tribespeople. But the opium
trade is popular with the rest of the elite, who rent RLG aircraft or create
fly-by-night airlines (such as Laos Air Charter or Lao United Airlines) to do
their own direct dealing.

Control of the opium trade has not always been in the hands of the Lao elite,
although the U.S. has been at least peripherally involved in who the
beneficiaries were since John Foster Dulles' famous 1954 commitment to
maintain an anti-Communist Laos. The major source of the opium in Laos has
always been the Meo growers, who were selected by the CIA as its
counterinsurgency bulwark against the Pathet Lao guerrillas. The Meos'
mountain bastion is Long Cheng, a secret base 80 miles northeast of
Vientiane, built by the CIA during the 1962 Geneva Accords period. By 1964
Long Cheng's population was nearly 50,000, comprised largely of refugees who
had come to escape the war and who were kept busy growing poppies in the
hills surrounding the base.

The secrecy surrounding Long Cheng has bidden the trade from reporters. But
security has not been complete: Carl Strock reported in, the January 30, 1971,
 Far Eastern Economic Review.

Over the years eight journalists, including myself, have slipped into Long
Cheng and have seen American crews loading T-28 bombers while armed CIA
agents chatted with uniformed Thai soldiers and piles of raw opium stood for
sale in the market (a kilo for $52). It's old hat by now, but Long Cheng is
still so secret that in the past year both the U.S. embassy press attache and
the director of USAID's training center were denied clearance to visit the
mountain redoubt.

The CIA not only protects the opium in Long Cheng and various other pickup
points, but also gives clearance and protection to opium-laden aircraft
flying out.

For some time, the primary middlemen in the opium traffic bad been elements
of the Corsican Mafia, identified in a 1966 United Nations report as a
pivotal organization in the flow of narcotics. In a part of the world where
transportation is a major problem and where air transport is a solution, the
Corsicans were able -to parlay their vintage World

War II airplanes (called "the butterfly fleet" or, according to "Pop" Buell,
U.S. citizen-at-large in the area, "Air Opium") into a position of control.
But as the Laotian civil war intensified in the period following 1963, it
became increasingly difficult for the Corsicans to operate, and the Meos
started to have trouble getting their crop out of the hills in safety.

The vacuum that was created was quickly filled by the Royal Lao Air Force,
which began to use helicopters and planes donated by the U.S. not only for
fighting the Pathet Lao but also for flying opium out from airstrips
pockmarking the Laotian hills. This arrangement was politically more
advantageous than prior ones, for it consolidated the interests of all the
anti-Communist parties. The enfranchisement of the Lao elite gave it more of
an incentive to carry on the war Dulles had committed the U.S. to back, the
safe transport of the Meos' opium by an ideologically sanctioned network
increased the incentive of these CIA-equipped and CIA-trained tribesmen to
fight the Pathet Lao. The U.S. got parties that would cooperate with its
foreign policy not only for political reasons, but on more solid economic
grounds. Opium was the economic cement binding all the parties together much
more closely than antiCommunism could.

As this relationship has matured, Long Cheng has become a major collection
point for opium grown in Laos. CIA protege General Vang Pao, former officer
for the French colonial army and now head of the Meo counterinsurgents, uses
his U.S.-supplied helicopters and STOL (short-take-off-and-landing) aircraft
to collect the opium from the surrounding area. It is unloaded and stored in
hutches in Long Cheng. Some of it is sold there and flown out in Royal
Laotian government C-47's to Saigon or the Gulf of Siam or the South China
Sea, where it is dropped to waiting fishing boats. Some of the opium is flown
to Vientiane, where it is sold to Chinese merchants who then fly it to Saigon
or to the ocean drops. One of Vang Pao's main sources of transport, since the
RLG Air Force is not under his control, is the CIAcreated Meng Khouang
Airline, which is still supervised by an American, though it is scheduled
soon to be tamed over completely to Vang Pao's men. The airline's two C-47's
(which can carry a maximum of 4,000 pounds) are used only for transport to

Prior to Nixon's blitzkrieg in Laos, the opium trade was booming. Production
bad grown rapidly since the early fifties to a level of 175-200 tons a year,
with 400 of the 600 tons produced in Burma, and 50-100 tons of that grown in
Thailand, passing through Laotian territory. But if the opium has been an El
Dorado for the Corsicans, the Lao elite, the CIA, and others, it has been a
nemesis for the Meo tribesmen. For in becoming a pawn in the larger strategy
of the U.S., the Meos have seen the army virtually wiped out, with the
average age of recruits now fifteen years, and their population reduced from
400,000 to 200,000. The Meos' reward for CIA service, in other words, has
been their destruction as a people.

Both the complexity and the finality of the opium web which connects Burma,
Thailand, Laos, and South Vietnam stretch the imagination. So bizarre is the
opium network and so pervasive the traffic that were it to appear in an Ian
Fleming plot we would pass it off as torturing the credibility of thriller
fiction. But the trade is real, and the net has entangled governments beyond
the steaming jungle of Indochina. In 1962, for instance, an opium-smuggling
scandal stunned the entire Canadian Parliament. It was in March of that year
that Prime Minister Diefenbaker confirmed rumors that nine Canadian members
of the immaculate United Nations International Control Commission bad been
caught carrying opium from Vientiane to the international markets in Saigon
on UN planes.

The route from Laos to Saigon has long been one of the well-established
trails of the heroin-opium trade. In August 1967, a C-47 transport plane
carrying two and a half tons of opium and some gold was forced down near Da
Lat, South Vietnam, by American gunners when the pilot failed to identify
himself. The plane and its precious cargo, reportedly owned by General
Rathikoune's wife, were destined for a Chinese opium merchant and piloted by
a former KMT pilot, L. G. Chao. Whatever their ownership, the dope-running
planes usually land at Tan Son Nhut airbase, where they are met in a remote
part of the airport with the protection of the airport police.

A considerable part of the opium and heroin remains in Saigon, where it is
sold directly to U.S. troops or distributed to U.S. bases throughout the
Vietnamese countryside. One G.I. who returned to the states an addict was
August Schultz. He's off the needle now, but how he got on is most revealing.
Explaining that he was "completely straight, even a right-winger" before he
went into the Army, August told Ramparts how be fell into the heroin trap:
"It was a regular day last April [1970] and I just walked into this bunker
and there were these two guys shooting up. I said to them, 'What you guys
doing?' Believe it or not I really didn't know. They explained it to me and
asked me if I wanted to try it. I said sure."

Probably a fifth of the men in his unit have at least tried junk, August
says. But the big thing, as his buddy Ronnie McSheffrey adds, was that most
of the officers in his company—including the MP's—knew about it. McSheffrey
saw MP's in his own division (6th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 9th Division) at
Tan An shoot up, just as he says they saw him. He and his buddies even
watched the unit's sergeant major receive payoffs at a nearby whorehouse
where every kind of drug imaginable was available.

An article by Kansas City newspaperwoman Gloria Emerson inserted into the Cong
ressional Record by Senator Stuart Symington on March 10, 1971, said:

In a brigade headquarters at Long Binh, there were reports that heroin use in
the unit had risen to 20 percent . . . . .. You can salute an officer with
your right hand and take a 'hit' [of heroin] in your left," an enlisted man
from New York told me. . . . Along the 15-mile Bien Hoa highway running north
to Saigon from Long Binh, heroin can be purchased at any of a dozen
conspicuous places within a few minutes, and was by this reporter, for three
dollars a vial.

Adding glamour to the labyrinthine intrigue of Vietnam's opium trade
throughout the late 1950's and early 1960's was the famous Madame Nhu, the
Dragon Lady of Saigon. Madame Nhu was in a position to be very likely
coordinator for the entire domestic opium traffic in Vietnam; yet so great is
the power she still wields from her palatial exile in Paris that she has
intimidated one American publisher and kept him from publishing the story. In
his book Mr. Pop, Don Schancbe, former editor of Horizon and former managing
editor of the Saturday Evening Post, recounts the following interchange on
the Plain of jars during August 1960 between Edgar "Pop" Buell—the Indiana
farmer who left his home to work with the Meo tribespeople—and a local

. . . Buell drove with Albert [Foure] to Phong Savan and watched from the
side of the airstrip as a modem twin-engined plane took on a huge load of
opium. Beneath the wing, talking heatedly with the plane's Corsican pilot,
was a slender woman dressed in long white silk pants and ao d'ai, the
side-slit, high-necked gown of Vietnam. Her body was exquisitely formed, and
her darkly beautiful face wore a clear expression of authority. Even Buell
could see that she was Vietnamese, not Lao,

"Zat," said Foure, "is ze grande madame of opium from Saigon." Edgar never
learned her name, but he recognized the unforgettable face and figure when
the picture of an important South Vietnamese politician appeared months later
in an American news magazine.

Though Schanche's publisher, David McKay Co., refused to publish her name for
fear of reprisals, the unforgettable face was that of Madame Nhu.

But Saigon's opium trade is not new. Its history stretches back to 1949, when
the French appointed former Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai as chief of state. Bao
Dai brought with him as chief of police Bay Vien, the undisputed leader of
Saigon's criminal underground, which controlled not only the gambling and
narcotics trade in Saigon but also, the important Chinese suburb of Cholon.
Bao Dai and Bay Vien held power until they were displaced after the 1954
Geneva Accords by Ngo Dinh Nhu, Diem's brother. Nhu had gained prominence in
Vietnam as an organizer of a Catholic trade union movement modeled after the
French Force Ouvriere, which the CIA bad helped supply in the 1940's to break
France's Communist dockworkers' union, the CGT.

At first Nhu feigned support for Bay Vien and Bao Dai, but by the end of 1955
be bad taken control of the Saigon secret police and—thereby—the city's opium
and heroin trade as well. just as the Nhus were consolidating their own
power, a little-known figure entered the Diem military apparatusa man who
through the years would carefully extend his control over the air force and
end up eventually heir not only to the South Vietnamese government but to the
opium and heroin trade as well. That man was Nguyen Cao Ky, who bad just
returned from Algeria to take charge of the South Vietnamese air transport's
C-47 cargo planes.

At what particular point in time Ky became involved with the Nhus in the
opium trade is not known, but by the end of the fifties be was cutting quite
a figure in Saigon's elite circles. In an interview with Ramparts, retired
Marine Corps colonel (and author of the book The Betrayal) William Corson
described Ky's life in the late 1950's in the following fashion:

Ky of course was a colonel in the Air Force back then and he used to have
these glittering cocktail parties at the top of the Caravelle [Hotel) in
Saigon. He laid out a fantastic spread-which was all very interesting because
the amount of money be made as a soldier was maybe $25 to $30 a month and he
didn't have any other outside income.

The first real light shed on the possible sources of Ky's extracurricular
income came only in the spring of 1968, when Senator Ernest Gruening revealed
that four years earlier Ky had been in the employ of the CIA's "Operation
Haylift," a program which flew South Vietnamese agents "into North Vietnam
for the purpose of sabotage, such as blowing up railroads, bridges, etc:'
More important Ky was fired, Gruening's sources claimed, for having been
caught smuggling opium from Laos back into -Saigon. Significantly, Ky and his
flight crews were replaced by Nationalist Chinese Air Force pilots.

Neither the CIA, the Pentagon, nor the State Department ever denied Ky worked
on Operation Haylift. Nor did they deny that be bad smuggled opium back into
Saigon. However, a U.S. embassy spokesman categorically denied Ky was ever
fired from "any position by any element of the U.S. Government for opium
smuggling or for any other reason." When Ky came to power in February 1965,
most observers supposed he bad relinquished participation in the opium
traffic (although it was "common knowledge" that Madame Ky had replaced
Madame Nhu as Saigon's Dragon Lady and dealt in opium directly with Prince
Boun Oum in Southern Laos). However, a high Saigon military official to whom
Ky at one time offered a place in the opium traffic says Ky continued to
carry loads ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 kilos of opium from Pleiku to Saigon
in the spring of 1965 after he had assumed power and after Operation Haylift
had been discontinued. Those runs included regular pickups near Dak To, Kon
Turn, and Pleiku. Since then -there has been no indication that Ky has in any
way altered the transport. Corson, who returned to Vietnam in 1965, observed
that Ky's involvement in the trade bad become so routine that it had lost
almost all its adventure and intrigue.

With gross returns from the Indochinese traffic running anywhere from $250
million to $500 million per year, opium is one of the kingpins of Southeast
Asian commerce. Indochina has not always bad such an enviable position.
Historically most of the world's supply of opium and heroin came through
well-established routes from Turkey, Iran, and China. Then it was refined in
chemical kitchens and warehouse factories in Marseilles. The Mediterranean
trade was controlled by the Corsican Mafia (which itself has long been
related to such American crime lords as Lucky Luciano, who funneled a certain
amount of dope into the black ghettos). But high officials in the narcotics
control division of the Canadian government, and in Interpol, the
International Police Agency, confirm that since World War II—and paralleling
the U.S. expansion in the Pacific-there has been a major redirection in the
sources and routing of the world-wide opium traffic.

According to the United Nations Commission on Drugs and Narcotics, since at le
ast 1966, 80 percent of the world's 1,200 tons of illicit opium has come from
Southeast Asia-directly contradicting most official U.S. claims that the
primary sources are Middle Eastern. In 1966 Interpol's former secretary
general Jean Nepote told investigators from Arthur D. Little Research
Institute (then under contract to the U.S. Government Crime Commission) that
the Fertile Triangle was a principal production center of opium. And last
year an Iranian government official told a United Nations seminar on
narcotics control that 83 percent of the world's illegal supply orignated in
the Fertile Triangle-the area where opium is controlled by the U.S.-supplied
troops of Laos and Nationalist China.

It is odd that the U.S. government with the most massive Intelligence
apparatus in history, could miss this innovation. But though it may seem to
be an amazing oversight, what has happened is that Richard Nixon and the
makers of America's Asian policy have completely blanked Indochina out of the
world narcotics trade. Not even Joe Stalin's removal of Trotsky from the
Russian history books parallels this historical reconstruction. In his recent
State of the World address, Richard Nixon dealt directly with the
international narcotics traffic. "Narcotics addiction has been spreading with
pandemic virulence," he said, adding that "this affliction is spreading
rapidly and without the slightest respect for national boundaries." What is
needed is "an integrated attack on the demand for [narcotics], the supply of
them, and their movement across international borders. . . . We have," he
says, "worked closely with a large number of governments, particularly Turkey,
 France, and Mexico, to try to stop the illicit production and smuggling of
narcotics" (italics-added).

It is no 'accident that Nixon has ignored the real sources of narcotics trade
abroad and by so doing has effectively precluded any possibility of being
able to deal with heroin at home. It is he more than anyone else who has
underwritten that trade through the policies he has formulated, the alliances
he has forged, and most recently the political appointments he has made. For
Richard Nixon's rise to power has been intricately interwoven with the rise
of proponents of America's aggressive strategy in Asia, a group of people
loosely called the China Lobby who have been in or near political power off
and on since 1950.

Among the most notable members of the China Lobby are Madame Anna Chennault,
whose husband, General Claire Chennault, founded Air America; columnist Joe
Alsop; FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, former California Senator William
Knowland, and Ray Cline, currently Chief of Intelligence for the State
Department. They and such compatriots as the late Time magazine publisher
Henry Luce and his widow, Congresswoman Claire Boothe Luce, have been some of
the country's strongest proponents of the Nationalist Chinese cause.

In 1954 Chiang Kai-shek formed the Asian People's Anti-Communist League
(APACL), which was to become one of the vital links between the China Lobby
and the Taiwan government. (It was also *in that year that Nixon urged that
U.S. troops be sent into Indochina following the French defeat in Dien Bien
Phu—a. proposal which failed because of the lack of public support for such
policy following the Korean War.) As soon as the APACL was formed, Chiang
announced that it had established "close contact" with three American
politicians-the most important of whom was Vice President Richard Nixon.

Over the years the China Lobby has continued to spring to Nixon's support. It
was Madame Chennault, co-chairman in 1968 of Women for Nixon-Agnew Advisory
Committee, who helped raise a quarter of a million dollars for the campaign;
it was she who just before the election entered into an elaborate set of
arrangements to sabotage a White House peace plan. Within 30 hours of the
announced plan, South Vietnam President Thieu rejected the new negotiations
it proposed—a rejection Madame Chennault had helped arrange as a last-minute
blow at Hubert Humphrey and the Democrats.

It is not only his debts, associations, and sympathies to the China Lobby
which have linked Nixon with Kuomintang machinations in Indochina and helped
plunge the U.S. deeper into the morass there. One of his most important
foreign policy appointments since taking office has been the reassignment of
Ray Cline as State Department director of intelligence and research. Cline,
the controversial CIA station chief in Taiwan who helped organize KMT forays
into Communist China, in 1962 promoted Nixon's old project of a Bay of Pigs
invasion of China. Within a month of Clines recent appointment, the
resumption of pilotless Intelligence flights over mainland China was approved.

The entire cast of the China Lobby has relied on one magic corporation, the
same corporation established just after World War II by General Claire
Chennault as Civil Air Transport and renamed in the 1950's Air America.
Carrier not only of men and personnel for all of Southeast Asia, but also of
the policies that have turned Indochina into the third bloodiest battlefield
in American history, Air America's chief contract is with the American
Central Intelligence Agency.

Air America brings Brahmin Bostonians and wealthy Wall Streeters who are the
China Lobby together with some of the most powerful men in Nationalist
China's financial history. One of its principal services has been to fly in
support for the "remnant" 93d Division of the KMT, the "opium army" in Burma;
another has been as a major carrier of opium itself. Air America flies
through all of the Laotian and Vietnamese opium pickup points, for aside from
the private "butterfly fleet!' and various military transports, Air America
is the "official" Indochina airline. A twenty-five-year-old black man
recently returned from Indochina told Ramparts of going to Vietnam in late
1968 as an adventurer, hoping to get in on the dope business. But he found
that the business was all controlled by a "group like the Mafia. It was tight
and there wasn't room for me." The only way he could make it in the dope
trade, he says, was to go to work for Air America as a mechanic. He found
there "was plenty of dope in Laos—lots of crystals [heroin] all over the
place." Air' America was the only way to get in on it.

What has taken place in Indochina is more than a flurry of corruption among
select dramatis personae in America's great Asian Drama. The fact that Meo
tribesmen have been nearly wiped out, that the Corsican Mafia's Air Opium has
been supplanted by the CIA's Air America, that Nationalist Chinese soldiers
operate as narcotics bandits, that such architects of U.S. democracy for the
East as the Nhus and Vice President Ky have been dope runners-these are only
the bizarre cameo roles in a larger tragedy that involves nothing less than
the uprooting of what bad been the opium trade for decades-through the
traditional lotus land of the Middle East into Western Europe—and the
substitution of another network, whose shape is parallel to that of the U.S.
presence in Southeast Asia. The ecology of narcotics has been disrupted and
remade to coincide with the structure of America's Asia strategy-the stealthy
conquest of a continent to serve the interests of the likes of the China

The shift in the international opium traffic is also a metaphor for what has
happened in Southeast Asia itself. As the U.S. has settled in there, its
presence radiating a nimbus of genocide and corruption, armadas of airplanes
have come to smash the land and lives of a helpless people; mercenary armies
have been trained by the U.S.; and boundaries reflecting the U.S. desires
have been established, along with house of 'commerce and petty criminality
created in the American image. One of the upshots has been that the opium
trade has been systematized, given U.S. technological expertise and a
shipping and transportation network as pervasive as the U.S. presence itself.
The piratical  Corsican transporters have been replaced by pragmatic
technocrats carrying out their jobs with deadly accuracy. Unimpeded by
boundaries' scruples, or customs agents, and nurtured by the free flow of
military personnel through the capitals of the Orient, the United States
has—as a reflex of its warfare in Indochina—built up a support system for the
trade in narcotics that is unpar.alleled in modem history.

The U.S. went on a holy war to stamp out Communism and to protect its Asian
markets, and it brought home heroin. It is a fitting trade-off, one that
characterizes the moral quality of the U.S. involvement. This ugly war keeps
coming home, each manifestation more terrifying than the last; home to the
streets of the teeming urban ghettos and the lonely suburban isthmus where in
the last year the number of teen-age heroin addicts has taken a quantum leap
forward. Heroin has now become the newest affliction of affluent America—of
mothers in Westport, Connecticut, who only wanted to die when they traced
track marks on their daughters' elegant arms; or of fathers in Cicero,
Illinois, speechless in outrage when their conscripted sons came back from
the war bringing home a blood-stained needle as their only lasting souvenir.

Aloha, He'Ping,
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
All My Relations.
Omnia Bona Bonis,
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
Roads End

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