How the Chinese-American Drug King is poisoning the world

In late January 2021, a Chinese-Canadian Golden Triangle drug lord was captured in the Netherlands at the request of the Australian police.

The keywords for this capture span the North-South, East-West hemispheres, and the amount of information behind the short news can be imagined. The long tentacles and complex background of the crime syndicate run by this Chinese drug kingpin is also evident.

Compared to the 1990s, the Golden Triangle has long been less of a newsworthy protagonist, even more or less with a sense of nostalgia and history. However, drugs have not disappeared in the Golden Triangle, and are still active in the underground world. A significant portion of the drugs that have proliferated in Europe, America and Southeast Asia in recent years have come from the Golden Triangle. The most representative drug lord is this Chinese who is described as a contemporary Escobar.

So what kind of drug cartel is behind this low-profile drug lord, and how do they “revitalize” the Golden Triangle?

Golden Triangle

The Shan State in northeastern Burma occupies nearly a quarter of the country’s territory.

Among all the provincial administrations in Myanmar

Shan State is undoubtedly the largest in size▼

The Shan Plateau, of which Shan State is a part, is the largest plateau in Southeast Asia in terms of area, broadly speaking covering the Shan State, most of Kayah State, and the land in northeastern Kachin State. While the mountains of northwestern Thailand, the mountains of western Laos, and the southern part of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau are partly divided from the Shan Plateau, this division is not clear and coherent, and there are numerous interoperable valleys and mountain passes.

The rich Colombian “king of cocaine”

was killed in 1993.

(Photo: Wiki) ▼

The Shan plateau is geographically connected to Thailand, Laos, and Yunnan Province to the east.

The Shan Plateau is geographically well connected with Thailand, Laos and Yunnan Province to the east.

The Salween River, which runs through the Shan plateau, actually connects the other Burma.

(Photo: shutterstock) ▼

The Shan plateau is rugged, with an average altitude of about 1,200 meters, and is fragmented by rivers, especially the many tributaries of the Salween River. Small basins and river valleys strewn across the mountains are among the few areas here that are suitable for cultivation, and where ancestors of different ethnic groups have thrived. Geographical barriers also brought about cultural barriers, resulting in unique cultures and customs of various ethnic groups, and naturally, different ethnic identities.

This geographical pattern is reflected in the distribution of ethnic groups

The Salween River is Home to the second largest “minority” ethnic group after the Burmese▼

The quaint villages in the dark valleys of the mountains and valleys are naturally a good place for tourists to satisfy their distant ideals, and were therefore considered by the colonists as a summer resort as early as the British colonial period.

Yet such a geography was poor for the locals. The narrow land made the agricultural ceiling very low and people had to fight with each other for the limited land. To relieve the pressure of survival, hills and gentle slopes were also reclaimed. The concentrated precipitation in tropical monsoon climate caused soil erosion, mudslides and landslides, and the struggle and efforts of communities and tribes in small geographical units lacked resilience to disasters, which were nearly insurmountable in pre-modern times.

Children who grew up in the city

will always feel that there is poetry and faraway places

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

So although Shan State is part of Burma, it has long been a place where the sky is high and The Emperor is far away.

Because there is no clear geographical boundary between Shan State and the Lao and Thai borders, the long and rugged border is difficult to manage, and the ethnic groups here are not only historically closer in blood and more similar in Culture to those on the Lao and Thai borders, but have become close to each other until modern times. The ethnic groups in Shan State have a weak identity with Myanmar and have always had their own armed forces during the long period of turmoil.

This is where the importance of infrastructure becomes apparent, especially in mountainous countries

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

The 1960s saw an explosion of opium cultivation here, backed by drug windfalls, and the rapid growth of local armed forces. The triangle-shaped area between Kachin and Shan states in Myanmar, Chiang Rai and northern Chiang Mai provinces in Thailand, and Luang Namtha, Phongsali, Oudomxai and western Luang Prabang is known by the name of the Golden Triangle of drugs.

One of the Three Famous Drug Producers▼

In 1986, drug production hit a record high again, and the following year, drug lord Khun Sa created the Mon Tai Army from the proceeds of drug trafficking. 1990 saw the Golden Triangle’s drug production exceed 3,000 tons, with the Khun Sa group accounting for 80% of the product.

His armed forces were once the largest anti-government force in Burma.

(Photo: Patricia W. Elliott/Wiki)▼

A large amount of these drugs have made their way across the ocean to the United States, and U.S. courts have even issued arrest warrants for Khun Sa. China, which shares a long border with Burma, is also under intense pressure to fight drugs, and has stepped up its anti-drug efforts, with even television dramas filled with episodes about the Golden Triangle.

Poverty Trap

In 1996, Burmese government forces, in conjunction with the United Wa State Army, defeated the Khun Sa group and other anti-government forces, and the Golden Triangle drug trade was thwarted. But the remaining Khun Sa forces, such as Nuokang, continued to sell drugs.

Due to its international reputation and possible direct armed intervention, the drug trade in the Golden Triangle has gradually lowered its profile, but full progress is still difficult.

After all, it is the rice bowl of many people

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

When drug production and processing becomes the backbone of a region’s industry, simply banning it is neither inhumane nor actionable. So the common practice is to replace poppies with other cash crops, allowing locals to earn a decent living. However, Shan State is economically backward, transportation is difficult, infrastructure development has long lagged, and cash crops are grown without advantage, instead requiring farmers to find their own ways to transport to the market, the transaction costs are too high.

General cash crops just transported to the market, the competitiveness is very weak

Only with drugs, the returns are so high that these obstacles can be ignored

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

Burmese farmers have been growing poppies for more than a hundred years, ever since the British brought them to Burma and began promoting poppy plantations. And with a local climate suitable for growing poppies, not only is it easy to grow, but drug dealers sheltered by local armed forces also come to the door to collect their goods, and there is money to be made from growing poppies, which is much more comfortable compared to growing other crops.

Just like the addict’s dependence on the drug itself, the local national economy has become dependent on the drug industry as well. The drought and flood of growing poppies has made many local farmers lazy, not wanting to work outside the home and not wanting the comfort of growing poppies to be changed.

Among them is a golden house, albeit a poisonous one

(Photo: wikipedia)▼

In addition to individual farmers’ own likes and dislikes, it is the attitude of the local armed forces that is more important to whether anti-drug efforts can be implemented.

After two waves of military operations against local forces around 2000 and 2010, local forces were either eliminated, disintegrated, or chose to cooperate with the government. However, this does not mean that the military government has complete control over Shan State, where a few special zones remain armed and highly autonomous. More subtly, this instability gives the junta a good reason to hold on to power.

The junta’s target may be someone else

A few drug-fed borderland forces can’t make much of a splash

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

The local forces have also figured out that they are not seeking independence, but rather taking advantage of the junta’s leniency to make a fortune in the black industry and earn more than independence. Under this delicate balance, which smells strongly of complicity, the black industry in the Golden Triangle has not only survived for a long Time, but also achieved industrial upgrading.

The New Power

The Golden Triangle’s drug kings have changed wave after wave under occasional crackdowns, but the Golden Triangle has still not become a historical term.

If you only look at the poppy cultivation in recent years, although production has risen, but far below the peak, you would think that the Golden Triangle has become the end of the line. In fact, the root cause is that drugs have been updated and have entered “industrial civilization. In recent years, more exciting synthetic drugs have become the mainstream of the drug market, and the poppy has become less important.

For example, methamphetamine

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

The threshold for making synthetic drugs is high, requiring skilled workers with chemical knowledge and an adequate supply of chemical raw materials. But once this threshold is crossed, the production of synthetic drugs can be easier and more controlled than traditional drugs – after all, compared to the plant-based ingredients to be extracted from the poppy, synthetic drugs can be made in underground factories under precise control, the process is less likely to be detected, and the profit margin is extremely high. The big drug lords with backgrounds have focused on synthetic drugs.

Lower-cost clay workshops

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

In the first eight months of 2019, drug seizures in China’s Yunnan province reportedly rose 22-fold compared to 2015. Thailand, meanwhile, went from an already staggering 100 million methamphetamine units in 2015 to 515 million in 2018, accounting for half of the total seizures in the Asia-Pacific region. Extrajudicial militancy in Bangladesh and the Philippines has even erupted into a direct drug war.

Methamphetamine drugs seized by Malaysian customs

(Photo: shutterstock)▼

It is easy to imagine that the explosive growth of new drugs in the Golden Triangle is the source of this drug crisis.

This is where the Chinese drug kingpin who was arrested at the beginning of the article comes into play – Xie Zhile. He immigrated to Canada in 1988 and joined a drug trafficking organization, under the efforts of which drugs poured into Canada so much that the price of drugs in Toronto dropped by 40% between 90-92.

Unlike traditional drug lords who carry their own traffic, the drug lords in this organization keep a very low profile, which reduces the probability of their premature exposure.

The focus on “product quality and service” is also the reason for their rise to prominence.

In the eyes of the addicts, this supply team is more professional, with a high volume of drugs, high purity, and a promise to resend the drugs if they are seized by the police (which is not really worth much to the producer), making it a good faith choice to buy the goods. Then, the addicts passed on the word of mouth to help Xie boss, so that their business is booming.

Because the price advantage of the drugs of the “Sango” group was so great, the gangsters who had been fighting constantly put aside their disputes, and the Chinese gangsters in Southeast Asia, The Japanese gangsters, the Australian bikers and other local snakes were generally involved. Reducing the internal conflict between criminal organizations, and let “San” achieved a surprising efficiency, its huge production and even make the price of methamphetamine continue to fall, began to enter the sinking market, poisoning more people, including students.

Even if we don’t fix the private zoo and keep a low profile, the fact that it is the source of a new wave of drug proliferation will not change. From Thailand, to China, to Australia, and even across the ocean to Canada and the United States, narcotics police everywhere see Xie and his “three brothers” as a major problem. As the cross-border crackdown intensified, the mastermind was finally caught and the round of drug proliferation could come to an end for now.

However, as the history of drug control has shown for decades, when the big drug lords fall, a group of small drug lords will divide the market and push the drug production to a new peak in a few years. Without changing the economic base of the Golden Triangle, it will be difficult to make fundamental changes in the anti-drug situation, and the game of the King’s flag will not end, and no one knows what new heights the next drug lord will roll up.