Akha Chronicles
Book 1: Maesai
Chapter 24: Drugs and the Drug War



The Drug War Is A Lie

Militarization of Akha related border lands

(Recommended Reading - The Politics of Heroin In South East Asia- Alfred McCoy)


The drug was was something imposed by the United States and it had direct consequences on the Akha. It was hypocritical and manipulated.  In the end it became a terror of its own to impose control on the peoples without helping them.

You would not believe the mess that meth is making in the villages now.  How foolishly and blindly they have ignored (intentionally) the poverty of these people and now meth is king and right after that someone blasts you with a gun, but always more volunteers.

When I look at the options of the villagers while forestry greedily takes more and more of the land, it is little wonder, for sure it is an economic war and pills the bullets.


ONDCP under Bush administration


Why Did The Thais Attack The Burmese Outpost At Dawn?

Did Chavalit's investments in Tachilek have anything to do with it?

The CIA and closing the road to China, keeping the drug slavery going?


Thursday March 22, 1:49 PM

Thai general says some politicians involved in drug trade

> By Nopporn Wong-Anan


> BANGKOK (Reuters) - An outspoken Thai army general responsible for

> defending

> the country's northern border with Myanmar said on Thursday several Thai

> politicians

> and businessmen were involved in drugs trafficking across the frontier.


> Lieutenant-General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, commander of Thailand's

> third

> army, told Thai radio he could not take legal action against the

> culprits because he did

> not have any authority or evidence to do so.


> "I can't arrest them because we are not authorised to, even though we

> know what they

> are doing," Wattanachai said. "Narcotics trafficking is a multi-billion

> baht business

> involving hundreds of people and networks... Politicians need money from

> them to buy

> votes."


> Wattanachai has been extremely critical of Myanmar following clashes at

> the border

> last month.


> He says Myanmar's government is encouraging the activities of the United

> Wa State

> Army (UWSA), the source of most of the methamphetamine pills flooding

> Thailand.


> Myanmar insists that it is clamping down on drugs and says the UWSA, an

> ethnic Wa

> militia group, should not be made a scapegoat for the problem.


> Wattanachai's comments have often contradicted Defence Minister Chavalit

> Yongchaiyudh, who boasts good personal connections with Yangon's ruling

> generals,

> fuelling speculation in the Thai media that Wattanachai could be

> transferred to a

> higher but inactive post later this year.


> The two countries, which share a 2,400 km (1,490 mile) border, have

> waged a war of

> words since their troops exchanged fire in February clashes that left

> several dead.


> Thai and Myanmar officials plan to hold their first border talks in two

> years on April 2-4

> in the northeastern Myanmar town of Kengtung in a bid to soothe

> simmering tensions.


> Among the issues Thailand wants to discuss at the meeting are

> cooperation to fight

> drugs, problems with refugees and illegal immigrant workers, and

> disagreements over

> some sections of the border.


> General Sampao Choosri, supreme commander of the Armed Forces, told

> reporters

> on Wednesday the resumption of a healthy bilateral relationship would

> emerge only

> after talks at a national level.


> The last regional border meeting was held in Thailand's southern resort

> of Phuket in

> March 1999.



The Nation - March 22, 2001.

Politicians trading in drugs: General


> THIRD Army Region Commander General Watanachai Chaimuanwong yesterday

> said more than 10 Thai politicians and businessmen were involved in

> narcotics

> trafficking and production in Burma and Thailand's northern region.


> He was responding to a news report suggesting Burma had a list of 10

> Thai politicians

> who had prominent roles in the production and trafficking of drugs,

> particularly

> methamphetamines.


> "It is for sure that a number of Thais - politicians and businessmen -

> are involved in the

> syndicates," said Watanchai.


> "Our Office of Narcotics Control Board has a list of them, more than 10

> of course," he

> added.


> Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he would make no statement

> relating to the

> Burmese claims this time.


> "I have my own way to check and deal with this case," he said. "Burma is

> aware

> already of my strong efforts to tackle the drug problem."


> Meanwhile former prime minister Chuan Leekpai said he had never been

> shown the

> list. "It would be good if Burma gave the list to the Thai side, however

> we have to

> check the facts first," he said.


> "During my premiership, Rangoon never gave such a list to me."


> Thailand and Burma have exchanged verbal barbs since last month, when

> Burmese

> troops encroached on Thai territory in pursuit of ethnic Shan rebels.


> Watanachai was the first to come out and criticise Burma's actions, and

> allege its

> involvement in drug trafficking.


> His criticisms are considered to have broken Thailand's traditional

> diplomatic

> approach - to avoid making direct criticisms of other countries,

> particularly neighbours.

> The situation became tense after Thaksin lashed out at Burma and the

> Burmese

> affiliated United Wa State Army.


> The conflict resulted in the closure of the Thai-Burma checkpoint

> linking Chiang Rai

> with Burma's Tachilek. Thailand recently re-opened its side of the

> checkpoint, but

> Burma has not. Watanachai yesterday said raw materials and the equipment

> used to

> produce narcotics were imported illegally into Burma from Thailand.


> "It is a fact that chemicals and materials used in the production of

> speed pills and

> other narcotics come from the Thai side," the general said. "The

> ingredients are also

> produced in China and sent to Burma through Thailand," he said.


> Thailand and Burma agreed to convene their Regional Boundary Committee

> (RBC) in

> Keng Tung on the Burmese side from April 2 to 4. The committee has not

> met for two

> years, because of the countries' shaky relationship.


> Watanachai said the main talking points in the meeting would be old

> bilateral

> problems that had never been seriously tackled, such as border

> demarcation, illegal

> immigration, fishing and narcotics.


> The Thai side would also raise Burma's intrusion into Chiang Rai

> province last month,

> Watanachai said.


> "We consider the upcoming RBC meeting as a proactive approach from the

> Thai

> side," he said.


> "The meeting is expected to help ease the tension."


The International Drug War


The Drug War In Thailand

The Wa

The Villages

The Burmese

Laundering Money.  Where does all the Wa Baht Go?

Poverty: Social and Economic Pressure Applied On Akha Villages, Land Rights

Poverty Alleviation

Motivations For Needing An Ongoing Drug War In Thailand

Barons and Mules: The  prices they pay.  Death for the Barons, prison for the mules.


How The Drug War Effects The Lives Of The Akha Hilltribe

Some History: Drugs And Having Your Village Burned



Lack of Land Rights

The Role of The Thai Forestry Department In  Making The Problem Far Worse

Night Time Search And Seizure In Akha Villages

Arrests And Imprisonment: Lack Of Representation

Murder In The Villages = Fear

Forced Village Relocations

Missions, The CIA, And The Destroying Of The Culture And Identity Of The Akha

Big Churches, lots of money for that. No money for water, vitamins, land rights.


Joking: Odd Encounters With Drug Agents

Over the years the work with the Akha became more and more involved, coming to understand some of the story of the

Akha people and finding ways to help them.  Noting the abuses of the Akha people on the part of secure and rich

missions and missionaries we oppose them.

Paul W. Lewis of American Baptists and founder of DAPA was one of them.

He sterilized hundreds of unsuspecting Akha women, many whose existing children then died, and were left without

children or recourse, broken marriages, weakness, death.  There was a mandate of silence out on the subject.

The Chinese Baptists were another scourge.

Some of the history behind this might be important.

During the early years in Burma, the CIA worked to build up and support the KMT.

The KMT were involved in opium and heroin production.  Some of the heroin supposedly went to Vietnam GI's and

many other places.

The KMT buildup was said to be an effort to distract the Chinese during the Korean War by attacking Yunnan Province

of China, which the KMT did, and they were seriously beaten and driven back into Burma.  The KMT brutally suppressed and taxed Akha hill tribe villagers in Burma's Shan state using the Akha villages as buffers against the Burmese who wanted the KMT out of Burma, and who defeated them repeatedly till they were driven south into Thailand or fled to Taiwan.  C-47 flights supplied the KMT along with other activities, and the Akha at San Chai speak of the reckage of one such plane which crashed near their village.

Many Akha villages were plundered and burned, the Akha caught in a vicious crossfire that went on for years.  The KMT further complicated the situation for the hill tribe by marrying into many of their villages such as the Lahu villages in Thailand, and the Lisaw. Their christian ranks cooperate closely with the Chinese Baptists (from America and Taiwan

once again) to infiltrate and overthrow traditional Akha villages like Bpah Cheeh Akha near Prai A Pai which they are doing right now.

Paul W. Lewis was a missionary in Keng Tung during these years until like the KMT he was kicked out. The Burmese said he was CIA.

He relocated to Chiangmai.  Meanwhile Bill Young, brother of Missionary Gordon Young, was busy working the drug scene in

Laos.  Also from Chiangmai.  Also CIA as was suspected of Paul W. Lewis.

Backed by the Taiwanese Baptist, Ah Sauh set up another "take and capture school" in Haen Taek where two Taiwanese brothers ran another wealthy project to own Akha Children.  With a new home and a whole new complex it was obviously rewarding to him.  However neither he nor any mission personnel, though implored, came to the rescue of Huuh Mah Akha, right up the road from there. However after the village was saved, they came to see if they could take it over.

The Chinese Baptist Missions, heavily saturating the area, continued to have personnel from Taiwan.  The Chinese Baptist Missions continues to consolidate their grip on the mountains with a full takeover of the Akha people and their villages.

Thai army personnel became concerned of the fake ID cards supposedly issued by the Mae Faluang Ampur office personnel on the sly for "fees" to people who were actually Chinese, not Akha, only Akha borrowed names.  Third Army corruption was also sited as a major problem.

Population of Chinese who had these people concerned?


Population of Akha the Chinese missions were trying to take over in same region?


Who and what wants to hide behind who?

The American Connected Chinese missions like Maesai Baptist, who just split Mae Chan Luang Akha behind Doi Mae Salong, a KMT stronghold, operate undisturbed despite the intense discord they create among the Akha and the trampling of their culture and indigenous rights.

Emanuel Gospel Fellowship (run by Taiwanese Americans) illegally smuggles Wa people into Thailand for special training at their Huai Krai center.  They are the mission which has repeatedly tried to over run the "Flat Village" where our ongoing fish project is slowly building up.

Most of the other missions in Thailand are networked with the Chinese or American Baptist in some fashion.

Keith Tennis of the Hong Kong office of the American Baptist Mission, would answer none of our questions about all this and an ethic for working with the Akha on the part of his or other missions.  Little wonder.  You can ask him yourself at


Keith Tennis <KeithTennis@compuserve.com.


A few other people are.

Khun Sa donated land in Thailand to the DAWN project near Maechan for a drug rehab project.

They got a big picture of their "lord" next to a cross of another Lord down there at the DAWN project.

The DAWN project whose trucks and buildings are shown on our mission sites, are aggressive fundamentalist proselytizers in the Akha villages, making payoffs and toppling traditional elder leadership where possible.  Hopefully the Akha refuse the Chinese connection.

Well, you remember the attempted forced relocation in Col. Sawat's 3rd Army Border Security Region of Huuh Mah Akha?  Guess who paid for all the shifty housing and environmental destruction that made way for it?

The Taiwan Rotary, who else?

And what do you think that cost?

And who donated to the Rotary for that?

We couldn't get any reply from Rotary, although some words from the head of the International Rotary got cut into a stone plaque at that location about helping people who were more poor than the rest of us could imagine.

Some help. (see relocation links and photos of the mess at the Huuh Mah Akha relocation site)

And ole Admiral Fargo, he promises that Security agreements for Taiwan are super important.

Might make you wonder who is working for who?

Just another connection.

Missionaries really do SUCK!

Think about it.  I wasn't joking.



Opium, meth, heroin.


Just A Little Opium

Initial impressions of the Akha and drugs are generally wrong or sewn with prejudice.  The Akha have a reputation for smoking opium, for growing opium and now of recent for smuggling other drugs.  But generally the Akha are not such big drug smugglers, mostly prefering to farm. The villages with the most stable farming situations also may be less likely to need to depend on selling small bits of drugs.  However the Akha are very aware of what the current situation is with drugs because both other groups often move drugs through the Akha villages, or processing chemicals the other way.

Many men who were used in porter duty many times by the Burmese and other armies retired early into smoking opium.  When one comes to hear the stories they tell of what they saw and what happened to them and their friends it is little wonder.  I once encountered an old man, but he was only 40, who lived in a tiny hut near a mango orchard of a friend of mine.  I asked about him. The Akha said he was old, that he had portered and fought in many wars and battles in the Burmese mountains and now he had not much stregnth so he watched and tended to the mango trees and smoked a little opium, making up his days.  I did not check back but believe the man died with not so much time.  I would have like to have known the details, but death was common for the  men in these situations.

There was some addiction, if you could call it that, to other drugs.  Heroin was the worst and produced wasting.  Plus it had the risk of dirty needles, HIV and overdose.  Speed pills were addicting and they were not.  It appeared that many more Thais got "addicted" while Akha men seemed to smoke the pills on occasion when they had a party or money, but then not the rest of the time.  Incidents with Akha men gone mad from pills happened, but not so often. 

Deaths over pill dealing were more common.  One frequent mistake was that an "operator" would do very well at selling pills, and keep promising to pay the suppliers and runners, but fall far behind.  Usually this was due to excessive partying, and high living, fast living.  With several years of this, he would build up enemies and then in some final misunderstanding or expiration of his social credit he would be gunned down or stabbed by suppliers who had not gotten paid.  The suppliers might be Akha but more often were not.

The Akha said they used heroin and speed because they were fast compared to opium.  Police were often arresting old people who were smoking in their homes to get money from them, or just throwing them for years into prison.  Men and women both.  Now opium had been replaced by a much bigger problem represented by speed so it did not appear that the police had either learned much or accomplished much, but their ignorance surely was noted and had increased cynicism among the Akha.  Arresting an old person who has worked hard, nearly to death, with fatigue over many years, for smoking opium is rather laughable.  Here is this shriveled up old man or woman in their sixties being hauled off to prison in chains, never to come out alive.  Meanwhile Thais are running hundreds of thousands of speed pills to Bangkok and taking their chances while the brains of many a Thai kid fry.

Of course, the Thais did not gain this stupid approach regarding drugs on their own, it was well sold them by the pushy United States embassy people, about irradicating drugs.  However when I asked the US drug people why there was no aid going into the Akha community to relieve economic crisis that promoted drug sales, they remained silent.  For it is a glaring gap in strategy, if the true strategy is a drug war.  But more than likely, as has long been suspected, the drug war is cosmetic for the militarization of many communities.  As well, there is substantial indications that the CIA itself has been involved in the drug business for many years to generate moneys for its black operations which congress will not finance. 

Opium does not seem to be so addictive, if there is nothing better to do the people keep on smoking opium.  It is a fantastic pain killer and probably not nearly as damaging to family or body as very legal alcohol which is promoted and sold by governments.

The physical effects of opium stain the hands from working the paste, and congest the lungs, cause slow attrophy in the body, and of course induces a lot of sleep.  But it is also a story drug, the old men sitting around smoking and talking about many histories and events effecting the village.

The Akha use opium for intestinal upset, cough and muscular or skeletal pain which it is very effetive for.  When one sees how steep the land is they farm, how far they must walk, and the work they must do, it is little wonder that opium is their herb of choice.

The effects of opium on the family depend on how much the man or woman smoke, what resources they have.  But this is all of late years, in years gone buy the Akha raised all of what they needed as well as sold a little bit.  But since it has been made illegal, the price of opium has gone up, smokers must buy it instead of grow it, and the price of heroin has skyrocketed over the years.  So currently, with it all a black market, the profits of a few individuals has gone way up, while it would not appear that the drugs are hard to get, just far more expensive.  So the elite, who are running the bulk of the drugs are making a fortune as compared to the past, and this would cause one to wonder just who was involved in the criminalization of these drugs, and how much they are involved in the profits on the other hand.


Akha’s and Meth

In the Maesai area there have been numerous shootouts between the Akha and the police.  Numerous Akha have been killed or gone to prison. A number of police have died  as well.

Apparently the Akha feel they are still benefiting over all even with the attrition.

Usually the shoot outs occur while the Akha are selling to under cover police.  From the stories I have been privy to, the Akha have been less than careful in these transactions.

They loose vehicles as a resutl of arrests.  Also many Akhas who were not involved get arrested until there is some payment made.  The police logically anticipate that the actual guilty parties in the village will have to come up with money.  I have personally witnessed these sorts  of incidents.


Akha and Heroin

Penty of use of heroin now. Easy to hide they said, and where was the upward mobility here?

Stuff looked like detergent and some said that they even cut it with that.  I suppose that would also be a good way to move it across the border if you needed too, heroin in your wash boxes.

Opium, morphine, heroin or number 4 as they called it here.  I saw it in the little plastic vials with the red tops similar to what we used to get sinkers or split shot in for fishing as a boy.

I had watched enough people inject and shoot up to know something of it.  I remember andy at nimit’s trying to find veins in his hand to shoot into, little blood leaks here and there like sweat in places where he tried and couldn’t get in.  He had these big soldering iron scars where they took out collapsed veins.

Then Nimit, he had long scars running up his arm near the shoulder.  His wife picked a spot at the bottom for each injection and the track ran down the arm slowly.  God he was a mess.

But she was dead now, life ran out.  This place ate everyone sooner or later.  And all the people who had died through that house.  You help people, you hope for people, you find out too much and it seems as if that kills you too, kills you down inside.  Can really depress you to know what all is going on.

To do heroin, they took a measure of it, older addicts used more, and melted it in normal water in a spoon, then took a piece of cotton it looked like and pushed the needle into it and pushed it around in the heroin it would seem, I don’t know why, maybe it caught shit like a filter, and then they pulled up through that into the needle.  If they had a track in their arm they went right in at the base of that track, Nimit used his for a long time, his wife was good at it, he wasn’t as good at it.  But the track got used a lot and was maybe two inches long on the upper arm.  He had a couple.  I thought that it looked like that the way someone lasted a long time on this stuff was to have a regular injector to keep the conditions as high as possible.  Self injection didn’t look so good.  Anyway, they pushed some of this heroin into the vein, then withdrew some of the blood and mixed it in the syringe.  Then pushed it all back in.  People had died in the guest house after being advised that they should inject so much but were dead with the needle in the arm and not even all injected yet, they had used so much.

I didn’t get it myself, suppose the stuff owned a person’s soul, and in the bottom of the well as the conditions in so  many of the villages were, it didn’t take much to own anything.


Meth running on border     

The Akha are often called upon by neighboring tribes to help guide the way through the villages, along the mountain trails, or to allow drugs to pass through their villages.  The Akha may not be involved in the transport but charge or fine the transporters for moving the drugs through the village and jeapordizing the village.  This is based upon the quantity transported.


Effects of Meth on people

I had seen now many Akha who lost their sound mind because they used too much meth or got into some bad meth.  They become disconnected and incoherent, talking about many things but neaning nothing and unable to do their work as well or carry on family business.

They may be able to work in the rice but that is all.

Some people say that their minds will come back to them after a number of years.



Ok, here it goes, what I know about the gig, course I won't say it all here as not to bore any.

Good opium does not have any additives. By additives I mean that some guys cut a certain tree, drain sticky  sap and then boil it and mix this into the opium. Maybe you get some effect when smoking it, don't know,  couldn't be good for you. 

Otherwise opium heads are best if grown in high mountains.  Heads while green and the size up to a tomato,  are cut with a double knife repeatedly, not sure if from bottom up, or top down, since I haven't seen it being  done.  then a curved crescent putty knife is used to gather the sap, not sure once again how long this takes  after the cuts are made, maybe hours, maybe a day.

Then this gum is opium.  High mountain opium gum is dark, low land is yellow.

This opium gum is rolled in balls generally and wrapped in very thin plastic just like what you buy for  covering a bowl in the ole refrigerator.

This opium can be sold then, or put up on a rafter to be saved for later.  Like wine, an opium ball that has been  sitting for three years is the best.  Four or five years is max and after that it turns to crumbles they say.

But a three year old opium ball is dark black, dense, and smells sweet. Opium that is fresh has two smells to it. One is pungent, or like what dandelion sap smells like.  As you sniff the raw opium you get this first, in the  front of the nose and on the tongue, but if you keep inhaling air off the top of the gum in the very back of your

nose and throat you will pick up a very fine sweet smell, very delicate, possibly why the perfume is called  "Opium".

Fresh pitch opium is stouter, hits quicker, than old aged black stuff.  It also doesn't handle as well. Eating a pea size ball of opium, or smaller, some people use for stopping the runs.  The Thai pharmaceutical  now sells a water for cough and runs called brown water, this is licensed over the counter, has opium, a good  amount in it.

An average family might have cultivated opium.  The small greens are thinned and eaten, quite tasty dipped in  chili sauce and hammered charred tomatoes from the coals.

A family plot may have raised two kilos.  These were put up in the rafter, after aging, one kilo was sold, for           silver.  The other kilo was smoked, used in ceremonies, used for funeral parties or when relativs visited, or  some such.  A house without opium for people to smoke for free, especially visiting elders, is not much of a  house.  You will not smash your car, shoot anyone, jump off a cliff, beat your wife, or rape anyone after smoking opium.

Generally old people smoke it.  It is an excellent relaxer and energizer at the end of the day, the tribes say, and  when I see them pack ears of corn, hundred pound sacks, straight up a cliff out of the fields, I can only guess  why.

But the US was greatly behind the stopping of opium cultivation, making no distinction between cultivation                 between private use and heroin production.  There is a vast difference.  Now having to pay cash, puts             difficulties on many smokers.

But you can now buy gobs of heroin or meth pills anywhere.

A pea sized ball anywhere in the neighborhoods that use it, is about $1 to $2. Price varies depending if anyone                has brought any around, if it is old and sweet or new and strong, and if the cops have been by lately.  Also the        size can vary from large to small pea. $1 is a large pea.  $2 is a garbonzo bean?.

The people only use a little new, worked into what they have just smoked, crushed, and added chinese aspirin              to, then smoke it again.  The old stuff is called "shit".  In Akha Doh Kay.  If you are short of supply, then all              you can afford is to buy a rich mans shit, the scrapings out of his pipe one time, for a few baht.  This will be a         chestnut size cluster of crumbles which are ground again by the user using a large metal spike with a rounded         head, and a small bamboo tray with one end open, like a scoop.

The absurdety of the moronic US pressure to suppress opium could not be more clearly seen than here.                However alcohol with much greater damage to the body and community is widely sold because the government      makes so much money off it.

I am located in Maesai, Chiangrai. My house has the pillars in the Maesai river right across from Burma, and I   range to 282 villages south and south west along the border, by 4 wheel drive, gone for three and four days at               a time.

Opium price is currently about that at all locations.

Compared to  50 cents to $3 for one meth pill as you go from north to Bangkok.  Buy at fifty cents and haul         100,000 speed pills to bangkok and sell for $3?  Yep, you just made some money.


The Drug War


My book, Matt, actually contains the history of opium's american criminalization.  Remember, until 1909 opium was completely legal in this country - an over-the-counter product.  The book is available online at www.drugwar.com.  Int'l shipping no prob. You are obviously another unprejudiced frontline empiricist.  "I work with opium smoking Akha every day,

and believe me it will never come close to wreaking the havoc of heroin or meth."  That's what everyone who knows anything this has to say - including the many doctors who bitterly opposed opium's turn of the century criminalization.

                As Dr. David Macht, Instructor in Clinical Medicine and Lecturer in

Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University put it in 1915, in the Journal of the

AMA no less: "If the entire materia medica at our disposal were limited to the

choice and use of only one drug, I am sure that a great many, if not the majority,

of us would choose opium; and I am convinced that if we were to select, say half

a dozen of the most important drugs in the Pharmacopoeia, we should all place

opium in the first rank."4

Wiley knew that opium sap was the safest and most effective herbal painkiller,

febrifugue, sedative, hypnotic and antispasmodic on the market, official for these

purposes, and that easy access to it was essential to the poor. Nonetheless, he

led the propaganda campaign - from his bully pulpit in the Department of

Agriculture and from his regular column in Good Housekeeping - that advertised

opium as a baby killer when not dispensed by the hand of a licensed personage.5

Opium’s demonic image, pounded in decade after decade, is assumed to be

reality today by the vast majority of people.

The 1918 U.S. Dispensatory: "Although capable of fulfilling all the indications for

which morphine [one of opium sap’s 39 alkaloids] is employed (above), when

used as an analgesic or somnifacient, the alkaloid is usually preferred because of

its lesser ability to disturb digestion. On the other hand, in diarrhea and

spasmodic colic the whole drug is superior to the alkaloid. Opium is frequently a

valuable remedy in diabetes mellitus. How it acts is uncertain, but the whole drug

is to be preferred to any of its alkaloids. Because of its peculiar power in dilating

the vessels of the skin opium tends to increase the sweat and is therefore useful

in minor infections, such as colds, grippe, muscular rheumatism, and the like."

The legally official guide of organized medicine claimed, word for word, what

the patent medicines claimed for opium; the entry for it is the longest in the

dispensatory, nineteen pages.6 Unlike the Dispensatory he helped to write,

however, Wiley made no legal distinction between the herbal sap and Bayer’s

souped up refined morphine, heroin.

When a baby died of whooping cough or pneumonia, if it had been given an

opiate to reduce the fever, stop the hacking cough and let it sleep, Wiley, in Good

Housekeeping, attributed the death to the medicine. Given the lack of effective

antibiotics and vaccines, opium was a great lifesaver; many a baby owed its life

to opium, as Professor Macht indicated. The soothing syrups, like Parke Davis’

Cocillana, or the tonic wines like Vin Mariani, were perfectly safe and healthful;

they were effective medicine, and that was the point.

Wiley’s crowning triumph, the Food and Drug Act of 1906,8 is a great advance

in medical monopoly and a modest advance in truth in labeling. Many over the

counter proprietaries made absurd claims and refused to reveal their contents,

which often were poisonous. The act, however, doesn’t require content

disclosure, even for poisons, and doesn’t challenge absurd claims; it only

mandates truth in content labeling, should the manufacturer care to disclose the


Content disclosure was mandatory only for those drugs specifically listed under

regulation 28, the most popular medicines in the country. Corrosive acids,

poisonous metals and toxic minerals could all continue to be packaged without

being listed. Only ten of the most commercially valuable medicines required

listing, along with the percentage of their content, including gum opium,

marijuana, coca leaves, "or any derivative or preparation thereof."

Wiley’s police force within the USDA was then given unilateral power to decide

what percentages were "poisonous," thereby requiring the manufacturer to label

his product as "poison." When the USDA forced a poison label on a safe

medicine, the manufacturer couldn’t take it to court with evidence of medical

safety, because the evidence was inadmissable. The law specifically stated that a

dangerous drug was anything the USDA said it was. President Roosevelt called

this "purposeful ambiguity." It is, in fact, a standard device of inquisitorial law -

it’s in Justinian’s Code and the Malleus Maleficarum, and it’s the law today.9 All

pharmacological evidence is inadmissable in drug cases, which is the legal equivalent

of saying that all forensic evidence is inadmissable in murder cases.


The Drug War

The Akha Hilltribe

Casualties Of The Drug War In The Golden Triangle

While millions of dollars are spent on scores of well fed white missionaries sent to convert them, the Akha Hill Tribe of North Thailand remain one of the poorest groups in south east asia, if not the world.

Locked in a mountain battle front with the war on drugs in the heart of the lengendary Golden Triangle.

Punished in the extreme in the past during British times for not growing their quota of opium, to the extent of having their children's hands chopped off, they now can not fathom why they are suddenly being arrested for possesing opium which they smoke to ease the pain of hard mountain farming, or which they sell to people who may trade it or convert it to heroin which may end up on the streets of America.

Seldom are they included in any just solution.  Their villages were often burned, and now are repeatedly relocated and impoverished of the bare essential lands they need to farm their mountain rice.  They bear the brunt of western hypocrisy and double standard.  If they had a fraction of the money spent on lavish mission compounds, tourism to their villages and law enforcement they would have adequate food and medical care.  But these people often lack the most basic human rights, such as Identity Cards and the right to travel away from their village in the search for work.  They have become increasingly prisoners of poverty, who can learn to "take it" or walk away from their mountain homes, their fields, their cemetaries, forever into an unknown future of poverty where more drugs, dispersion and brothels await their children in the cities of Thailand.

Villages lack clean water, basic medical care, sufficient farm land, or security.  Marauding gangs of drug runners come into the villages at night blasting huts with AK-47's killing both their target and sleeping children in the frenzy.

Huge sums of money are collected by organizations which never reach the needy people, in a conspiracy of silence.

Children are removed from the villages in the name of protecting them, while forcing them to convert and abandon their culture and the guidance of their village elders.  Oral traditions are considered as inferior to western book learning, despite the fact that the Akha knowledge of nature and farming has kept them alive for centuries in one the most hazardous corners of the earth.

Villages forced to relocate by greedy forestry officials backed by machine gun carrying soldiers have been left abandoned in styfling canyons, as compared to their cool mountain top homes, their children subject to a host of mosquito born disease, and all the village people left to walk for hours each day to and from inferior and insufficient replacement fields.  Miscarriages are high, and even now forestry personell take more and more of this replacement land, planting trees in the rows of corn and threatening the villagers with retaliation if they protest.

There is no lost love for the Hill Tribe on the part of the Thai people, though these tribal peoples have lived in these mountains well over a hundred year in the abcense of Thais, who lived in the low land regions.

Now the Akha along with all the other hill tribe are being told they are foreigners and to get out.

While Thai citizens apply for student visas to come to the US and study, enjoying the security and freedom offered even though they are guests, the Akha Hill Tribe is offered no such luxury back in Thailand as a tiny minority.

While the United States has repeatedly granted citizenship and amnesties to illegal immigrants from other countries, Thailand still scorns the few hill tribe within their borders.  Many Akha villages have been in Thailand for over a hundred years, but even so the entire Akha population in Thailand only reaches some 70,000 people, many born in Thailand, some migrants over the fluid borders.  The Akha live in adjancent countries of Laos, Burma and China, numbering no more than 400,000 people.

The Hill Tribe are begrudged, treated as inferior, despit the fact that tourism in Thailand has exploited their gentle and colorful tribal image high in the foggy mountains for more than twenty years. The great financial gain went to the tourism industry, certainly not to the Akha Hill Tribe.

Now with the natural beauty of much of the remote mountain areas in Chiangrai Province destroyed by greed and a maze of big roads cut horribly through the mountains, the villages are relocated, and soon become slums.

Only human rights and international representation for Akhas can turn this situation around.

Currently that looks a grim prospect in the face of an ever politicized world wide war on drugs that hardly appears to be succeeding.

If heroin was a scourge that was to be ended by destroying the poppy fields, by relocating villages, then what will be the solution to the incredible wave of speed pills?

Will the Akha once again take the brunt of this next war? 

Will all their young men end up in prisons and all their daughters in brothels?

It would seem so in a world too busy to be concerned with little peoples.


The Old Man Caught Selling Pills

He couldn't run as fast when the police raided the house and the younger men got away.  But the police caught him, 75 years old and selling 300 pills to feed himself.  I knew the poverty, the struggle of the villagers, and he was from the one behind, where they were even more poor.  So he came here to live on his younger siblings land.

The police beat him on the legs and chest so he could not walk nor hardly breathe.  They had to drag him to get him into the pick up truck, confident that he would die in prison. 

They "ate" 100 of the pills, reported only 200 to the boss, and told the villagers that if they got any trouble out of the village they would put a grenade in the huts.

The son of the old man was angry but had to run too.  His wife took the two small children and hid in other huts, afraid to go back to the house of her father in law. 

Besides that the police took everything that one could live or eat with from the house and promised to come back and burn it later.


The Death of Maw Lay from the flat village

He was a likeable guy, but dealing in girls at the massage house and in pills.

They (somebody) invited him to Burma and he didn't come back.


Opium smoking

two hits the guy feels better, more he cant work, more he cant sleep, more he cant shit



lots of it, cut with sleeping pills, detergent which it looks just like and whatever other shit you can imagine.


The Shooting of Loh Guuh


The Death of Ah Pah


The Death of Mr. Ah Juuh Cheh Muuh


The International Drug War


The Drug War In Thailand

The Wa

The Villages

The Burmese

Laundering Money.  Where does all the Wa Baht Go?

Poverty: Social and Economic Pressure Applied On Akha Villages, Land Rights

Poverty Alleviation

Motivations For Needing An Ongoing Drug War In Thailand

Barons and Mules: The  prices they pay.  Death for the Barons, prison for the mules.


How The Drug War Effects The Lives Of The Akha Hilltribe

Some History: Drugs And Having Your Village Burned



Lack of Land Rights

The Role of The Thai Forestry Department In  Making The Problem Far Worse

Night Time Search And Seizure In Akha Villages

Arrests And Imprisonment: Lack Of Representation

Murder In The Villages = Fear

Forced Village Relocations

Missions, The CIA, And The Destroying Of The Culture And Identity Of The Akha

Big Churches, lots of money for that. No money for water, vitamins, land rights.



Then there is the issue of drugs.  Must seem qutie normal to the Akha.  Opium.  After all, the British brought it to subdue and now the Americans are busy preaching how evil it is to be subdued, to indulge yourself that way, odd.  I am not sure they think about this history so much, they push to effect the supply to diminnish the supply, but I wonder about this, and about the economic math of this.  Opium of course doesn't travel much on the world market, but once refined into morphine and particularly heroin it does, and this is never very good for people.  I can see smoking the stuff, but heroin will do you in a couple of years, longer for a few people maybe.

At any rate the Christians too rage against the drugs. 

But in Christianity many contradictions and denials are allowed. This should not be true.  And when yu ask hard questions people just don't answer but are always talking about the truth and God setting us free.  I find this odd too.

One difficulty for me is that people have already come along and made the Akha situation a mess and now it is very hard to talk about Jesus without someone else "pushing" your work to a destructive side or the Akha jumping to the conclusion it was all the same.  That is why I have wanted to make a primer on this subject for a long time.



Mooh Dzurh said that the Chinese used to buy opium and cook it with alcohol to make blocks.  Then they smoked it pure and used a five gal oil can with a hole cut in it to control the smoke from escaping and other people finding out.

Valley opium is dark color, grown in muddy ground, while mountain opium is yellow and better quality, smokes better.


Aug. 2001

Drug Money

If the chinese church had all this mooney to buikd a boarding schoool, was it drug money, any of it?

Wa - Lahu drug money?



Opium has the effect, one of the effects, of grabbing off the mind particularly the motivation.  It kills the poain of the body but also kills the motivation of the soul.

Pah Nmm had lots of problems imposed by the army in the forced relocation.  Many other villages had been totally destroyed by loosing everything.

The opium was a kind of surrender to the command of the army.  Many villages smoked opium but still functioned.  But when you added a large structural damage to the villae then the opium shifted from a recreational  drug to a major pain suppressant.  And a major pain suppressant it was able to be.  One good smoke could kill your pain for days.  Mental and physical pain.  Least 3 or 4 days it would last.



Alcohol is surrender for the day, for the night, for the drive to do especially what you don't want to do, like typing this all into the computer from hand written journals.

Much of my owrk demanded that I work on limited funds and too much work to do.  This required vission every morning to try and see how I could make a differenc in the strategy and planning of the project so I could accomplish the impossible as it were.

Right now the truck is down and I had to decide on what to do to get the rest of the money.

There was little in the way of regular funds.  Such that I could plan projects.

Literature was the greatest need I had at this point beyond the repair of the truck.

Intervillage journal and a journal to give to foreigners, to tell the Akha story.

And I had to recruit more tourists to help, to donate funds and so forth.


A gambler Kamen Daeng, was killed in Maesai

He was shot through the back of the head by an army sniper.  The Third Army was angry because he had let the Burmese army move troops with his fleet of trucks he had on the Burma side from his gravel and sand business, when there was the border conflict between Burmese and Thai army this year.


Opium can make people angry when they wake up



I rested my boot on the foot of the bed, the kids were asleep under the mosquito net.

He worked the opium "crap" as they called it "doh kay" into a powder, added aspirin powder and new opium and smoked it.  He rolled the ball in his fingers, pushed a heavy needle into it, held it over the flame funnel and then worked it against a flat metal blade from one of those cheap knives, returning the black ball over and over to the flame.  To the outside of this ball he would add more of the fresh paste, gum sap of opium.

If the opium was good, especially the dark or even aged  stuff, it had a strong smell like you might get with dandelions or rg weed but if you sniffed the rw gum and inhaled deeply there was a very exquisite and fine sweet flavor to it which would come to the back of the nostrils.

To smoke it wsa sweet too, the exhaled smoke sweet to another's nose.

Smoking opium was excellent for conversations talking things out.

They said it was also good for xex.

They smoked it over the flame funnel, till it bubbled, drawing the liquid in while it was hot, cleaning the hole, smoking again.  If you wait till the ball cooled, then it didn't taste as good or perform as good.  For that reason you smoked it clean through, the whole ball, for best taste and handling.

We talked many times over opium, good conversation.

The pot a tiny clay pot, the bamboo tube, that was all.  The clay pot, no bigger than a crab apple, had a copper wire wound around the neck to keep it strong.  Sometimes the whole thing broke and the men wired the whole thing together. 

The flame was a wick of threads, in a tiny can or bottle fed by pig fat, that was the best, pulling the wick up with the needle or adding oil part of the life of opium.

A couple pillows. a couple blankets.


The Gap

There was supposedly a drug war going on but no one was into the border villages.  These villages should figure crucial into any plan to slow the flow of drugs.



Have a comment or question? Like to know more? Send me an email at akha@akha.org
Copyright 2004, by Matthew McDaniel