|Corn making way for
As Thailand desperately tries to salvage normal relations with
Rangoon, following the capture of half a million speed pills together
with 9 dead Wa fighters on 20 August, drug bosses at the newly established
southern Wa capital of Mongjawd are preparing to exert control on
the coming season's opium output between Mongton and the Karenni
State, roughly opposite Maehongson and Chiangmai provinces, according
to both civilian and Thai official sources.
Cornfields are being harvested by both the local and imported farmers,
and the soil, having been enriched by the maize corn, is being prepared
for the sowing of poppy seeds, they said. Planting is expected to
begin by the end of this month. "Some have already sowed,"
said a Lahu trader, "but the sudden downpour ruined their fields."
Last year's output in the area of some 30 villages was estimated
as 9-18 tons. The upcoming season's yield is expected to exceed
last year's. Ten new Kokang bosses have arrived in Nakawngmu and
have teamed up with Wei Hsuehkang, who has transferred his 171st
Military Region headquarters from Hwe Aw to Mongjawd, according
to the Border Patrol Police. "With them came hundreds of hired
farm laborers," added a local Shan.
Prices have also climbed up. Opium, 6,000 - 8,000 per viss (1 viss
= 1.6 kg) during the New Year, is 11,000 baht last week, while heroin
has risen to more than 200,000 baht per kilogram.
Rangoon has promised to make Burma drug-free by 2014. But critics
have accused its anti-drug activities in northern Shan State as
"cosmetics"that do little or nothing about drug production
elsewhere in the country.