Published on 24th February 2011 by

Khun Sa – Opium Warlord of the World

A profile of Khun Sa, the region’s most powerful and autocratic drug warlord and his 20,000-strong army.

March 1994

The American Drug Enforcement Agency says Khun Sa’s army protects his drug interests, but Khun Sa says it’s to continue his fight against the Burmese. He proclaimed independence for his Shan land from Burma in 1993. Ho Mong, Khun Sa’s headquarters, is the size of a small city. A thousand new army recruits, all children, parade through a maze of well planned roads, houses, schools, temples and hospitals. The soldiers, often just nine years old, are press-ganged into service – many will never see their homes again. If they run away one of their family is executed. In 1977 Khun Sa promised to stop the opium trade in exchange for independence from Burma. To prove his innocence Khun Sa shows the pits in the ground where drug addicts are reformed. But the whole area, from growers to addicts, relies on the drug trade. In the Temple of the Last Chance Buddhist monks detoxify pathetic young Thai drug addicts by administering a herb drink makes them throw up.

Journeyman Pictures – Ref. 40

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