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The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Paperback – 1973
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Top Customer Reviews
US support of anti-communists in Asia, who often financed their activities through poppy, opium and heroin growing and manufacturing, led to this situation. It really began in WWII, when mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese were let out of jail to help the US invasion of Sicily, and then to keep the unions in southern France out of the hands of the Communists in the post-war years. The latter focused on the port city of Marseille, which soon became a center of heroin refining and exporting (the "French Connection). In the '50s, the Shah of Iran put a stop to the massive poppy industry in that country. Some of the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's troops fled into the jungles of Burma after their defeat by the Communists; the US pressured Burma into allowing those troops to stay there, and the CIA began supplying them with Company airlines (Civil Air Transport and Sea Supply Corporation, which soon became Air America).
The KMT troops in Burma grew opium to finance themselves, while they used US arms and sometimes CIA planes to fly the opium out to Thailand or Taiwan. The drug center of the region was the town of Chiang Mai in northwest Thailand. The commander of the Thai police, Gen. Phao, was in on the racket and was the CIA's man in that country. In the '50s, heroin became a major problem in the US. The French also cooperated with the heroin trade in Indochina, and most of the leaders of South Vietnam (including Diem and Nhu) were involved as well. The Montagnard (or Hmong, also Meo) tribesmen in the hills were both fierce fighters and poppy farmers. Air America flew opium out of the Montagnard villages. DEA Far East regional director John J. O'Neill: "The kind of people they were dealing with up there, the whole economy was opium. The were dealing with the KMT and the KMT was involved in heroin. I have no doubt that Air America was used to transport opium." The Army's Criminal Investigation Division accidentally discovered a mammoth scheme where GI corpses were split open and stuffed with heroin before being flown to the US. Conspiring officers at the other end took the heroin out - up to 50 pounds of heroin per dead GI.
"The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia" reveals the purpose behind the CIA's incolvement in drugs: at least since 1954 in Guatemala, the US has been involved in massive international terrorism throughout Central America. being clandestine, the CIA needed untraceable money and brutal thugs, so the CIA turned to narco-traffickers - like Manuel Noriega (long on the CIA payroll before his demise).
"The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia" remains one of the more important, relevant (in light of US involvement in the euphamism called a drug war in Columbia) yet obscure books of the previous quarter-century - a book that ultimately posits the question of whether the CIA, as an instrument of state policy, reflects the values of the American populace. Fascinating reading.
There was only one edition of this book; immediately after its first printing, the entire publisher was bought by the U.S. government, and all warehoused copies were destroyed. However, with a bit of luck it can still be found in used bookstores.