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pletely. The link in the chain which might be further exploited is the chemical refining point. Fifteen chemists were arrested last year, and there is already a shortage of chemists for the refining process. In addition, they are having trouble securing enough acetic anhydride. Two of the labs which the narcotic forces broke up last year in Hong Kong were producing acetic anhydride. Narcotic enforcement efforts should continue to focus on the chemists and although it is difficult, tighten the controls on the import of acetic anhydride. This will be particularly effective in relation to the Golden Triangle countries because there is very little industrial use of acetic anhydride so the primary reason for import would be for refining. Japan can be and is very helpful in this respect as much of the acetic anhydride originates there.
The law enforcement officials will have a very hard time putting the syndicates permanently out of business as they are very sophisticated and difficult to infiltrate.
The major problem in controlling the nautical traffic is that the customs have to go after the traffickers. It is not feasable under present circumstances to create a customs operation which could inspect all of the ships each time they enter the port. It is impossible to keep track of the boats which drop the cargo in international waters for the junks to pick up. Even the boats which are marked are difficult to keep track of because of the manpower demands. To further the problem, the port is open 24 hours a day. The harbor police must be selective, and they focus their attention on the vessels which come from suspicious ports. For that matter, they search all of the air travelers who come from Thailand or fly on Air Siam. There is a shore patrol which has the aid of an opium dog but there is only one. There is certainly room for us to provide greater financial and manpower support to our people in this
Our customs service works along with the DEA agents in the field to assist the Hong Kong authorities in improving their customs operations. The DEA agents have developed an excellent working relationship with the British authorities. Norman Rolph, who is the senior narcotics officer for the British, is very willing to work with the United States for the good of all, and he is to be congratulated for the progress made in this all important way station of narcotics trafficking.
THAI ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS
There has been a major improvement in the entire Thai narcotics. situation and, more specifically, in the Thai commitment to suppressing illicit narcotics traffic since 1973 when Mr. Wolff was last in Thailand. The primary reason for the greater cooperation is that the government which was not willing to assist has been removed from power. We believe that the former government contained high ranking officials who were said to be involved in that narcotics traffic.
Our suspicion was reinforced when we had the opportunity on our recent trip to meet with the sergeant who apprehended Lo Hsing Han. What is peculiar is that Lo Hsing Han had over 200 armed supporters with him while the arresting officer only had seven men. We have been told by authoritative sources that he peacefully boarded the helicopter which took him away because he thought he was going to meet his Thai government contacts.
When these individuals were removed from power with the change of governments, the degree of cooperation increased immeasurably. Another incentive for Thai cooperation is their realization of a serious internal heroin abuse problem with an addict population of 300,000 to 400,000 individuals. Furthermore, the U.S. strong request for cooperation, including congressional action which forecast a cut in U.S. assistance spurred the Thai reaction. To complement this, U.N. and world opinion was focused on the Thais. Just as other countries did not like being singled out in the eyes of the world community, the Thais responded.
The enforcement efforts of the Thai police have been aimed at disrupting and intercepting the part of the opium traffic which is transported from the highland regions of the Golden Triangle for consumption in lower Thailand and for worldwide distribution. They have been able to partially disrupt the traffic, but the main impact of their efforts has been an increase in the price which the traffickers receive for their product because of the greater risk associated with the movement. The portion of the opium which the farmers do not consume but sell to the illicit middlemen is currently marketable, and the enforcement has not brought about a surplus of supply. The traffickers are happy to keep the opium off the market as the price for illicit opium continues to rise. In the last 2 years, the price of rice has doubled; the price of opium has increased fivefold. As opium does not deteriorate with time, the middlemen are very willing to keep it off the market. The Shan consortium, however, is in a position to demand that the middlemen release their stockpile for external sale contingent upon acceptance of their proposal. We should be aware that if we reject the Shan proposal, there may be a substantial increase in the drugs which are placed on the market and the licit "shortage" will still be around. As long as we rely on conventional law enforcement methods and this includes supplying the Thais with sophisticated equipment we will only take 5 to 10 percent of the drugs out of the illicit pipeline and will never thoroughly disrupt the traffic or end the production.
As a result, the Royal Thai government has created a four-pronged narcotics control program which centers on the Special Narcotics Organization (SNO), the Narcotics Suppression Center, the Thai Trawler Program, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Narcotics Unit. They still are unable to place as much emphasis on the growing area even within the Thai border as they would like. Even so, we now have people on the Thai police force to whom we can go to with information. This was not the case a few years ago when one considers the corruption which then existed. Police Maj. Gen. Pao Sarasin who coordinates the Thai narcotics effort was very helpful to us and is a highly professional officer. The Thai Narcotics Suppression Center is an excellent facility, but they do not have an adequate staff to make the best use of the information which they do have and receive from agents and other sources. We should free some of the money which is in our general narcotics fund so that the Thais can use the assistance under our supervision for our mutual interests.
The Thais are far more organized today, and they are becoming a first-rate enforcement organization with the beginnings of a central information facility which is crucial to the effectiveness of any narcotics effort. The Thais also have better intelligence today. Three years ago, we relied solely on U.S. intelligence and it was a matter of our pushing the Thai's into the field of narcotics enforcement. Our plans were used for direction, and we really had to lead their agents around by the hand. Now, they are self-starters, they come up with their own central plans and their own ideas about what should be done. They are aware that it is their problem also, and it is in their best interest to end the heroin trafficking through and in Thailand.
The scope of their operations has expanded. In 1973, there were 51 major anti-narcotics operations and SNO, which was U.S. funded and directed, was in on 39 of them. In 1974, there were 54 and SNO was only in on 23 (see appendix). Other segments of the Thai police force are picking up on the narcotics enforcement effort, and this includes the Bangkok Metropolitan Police. The Royal Thai Government set up the Special Narcotic Organization in April 1972 and charged it with targeting its resources against tri-border area traffickers. It has been rather successful, but its efforts have led to a change in the narcotics smuggling operations which are much more difficult to counteract. SNO at present has roughly 60 men who are centered at Chiang Mai. They are independent of other Royal Thai Government National Police elements and have their own secure communications network, in addition to a uniform reporting and central information file and retrieval system, all housed at the Chiang Mai headquarters.
Although SNO has been rather successful, the support of other law enforcement factions has not been that good. 87 people have been arrested for narcotics abuse. Many of these cases are still pending in court; some of the 87 will be released because they can only be held for so long before they must be brought to trial and there is a judicial backlog. The SNO agents are not entirely satisfied with the public prosecutors, who, they feel, could hasten the cases and ask for stiffer sentences as a means of deterring participation in the trafficking. Even though some 15-20-year sentences have been handed out, there still is no shortage of individuals willing to risk being caught because of the incredible profit incentive.
On December 30 and 31 of this year, a large refinery on the border between Thailand and Burma was seized; it was producing No. 4 heroin. None of the people who were operating the refinery were caught as they fled across the Burmese border when the SNO forces came near. At the present time, the traffickers have far more sophisticated communications equipment and are far better armed than the enforcement personnel. They are able to place the refined product in various distribution points and then supply the protection to make these central points secure from Thai and Burmese enforcement personnel.
The two-part goal of the Thai effort is the disruption of the flow in and through Thailand and the reduction of the production of opium in Thailand. There are several specific problem areas which still merit
increased U.S. activity in support of the Thai initiatives. The obvious problem is that the Thais do not control the northern border area which is not only the key trafficking spot but also the area where 100-200 tons of opium are grown annually. For the Thais to move forces into these areas would be very similar to a full scale wartime action, in that the insurgents each have a well-armed branch to their organizations. Furthermore, the Thais have no desire to attack the hill tribes or Shans. In addition, the actions or inaction of the Burmese is the real key to the whole question from the U.S. perspective. Thailand consumes almost all of the opium which it grows; it is the 300-400 tons of Burmese opium which passes through Thailand which reaches the illicit market. Once again, the people responsible for this are not working with the consent of the Burmese government but outside of their active control. A major stumbling block to a permanent solution to the opium growing problem is that neither Thailand, the United States nor the U.N. has been able to find an acceptable crop for widespread substitution. Most of the Shan region is at a high elevation, and the transport of a crop to market is a very difficult process. To add to this problem, the rise in drug prices around the world and the possibility that there is a licit shortage have proved to be added incentives for the tribes to grow opium.
Another complication is that there is a need for the enforcement, treatment and substitution programs to work hand in hand and not against or in ignorance of one another. The seizures and enforcement have led to the economic dislocation of many of the hill people who supply the traffickers. There is a real possibility that the government actions will alienate the half million hill people and force them either to join with the rebels or cause them to leave the highlands and resettle in the lowlands as refugees with all the other problems that brings. The Thais do not want to focus completely on the enforcement angle, and this should be kept in mind when considering the purchase of a majority of the crop by a third party or plans to replace the poppy planting with something else.
Other troubling aspects of the Thai problem are more difficult to combat and will take longer to solve. We refer to problems of ineffective legislation, continuing corruption, apathy to cultural change, and socioeconomic factors. Specific initiatives can be aimed at each of these aspects.
There are six major areas where the United States is supplying support for Thai programs. First, there is the Northern Development project which is concerned with research and study of the region with special attention paid to the altitude and soil conditions which are found in the Shan states. Any crop substitution project will need this information for background. Second, there are test projects leading to zonal development. Third, there is the building of interdiction access roads which could be used to help get enforcement teams into the inaccessible regions and which also could be used to stop the traffickers who come down from the north. This is a high priority item according to our AID representatives. Fourth, we supply customs assistance to bolster the Thai customs effort which is not very effective at this point. Thailand has 300 customs officials helping them; one customs official deals specifically with our military personnel stationed there. The customs officials in concert with the police have the use of 16
marihuana dogs and 7 heroin dogs. In addition to these efforts, the customs officials search all packages sent back to the United States by the military, and all baggage is searched before being sent to the United States. We are also helping the Thais to monitor the regular commercial air traffic. Their surveillance of the air crews is admittedly insufficient. Fifth, we provide narcotics enforcement assistance which began with SNO and has spread to the entire country. Sixth, we aid them in information efforts. We have learned that they are very receptive to a kind of public education effort. This helps to alert the Thais to their own problem and, ultimately, will help mobilize a public reaction to make a determined effort to combat drugs.
The DEA agents in Thailand provide the front line of support, and a special agent has been assigned full time as Project Officer for the Thai Trawler Interdiction program. (The section in the appendix is useful for viewing the support programs in greater detail.)
There are several other issues related to the Thai effort which deserve our further attention. The SNO forces need more communications equipment, and they could use to great advantage increased training of their personnel by the United States. Considering the length of the border, they could use electronic surveillance to great benefit. There are roughly 1,000 border patrol police, and they spend half of their time on narcotics matters. To deal with the coastline, they could use a sophisticated patrol boat for pursuit of suspected smuggling vessels. In general, the Thais do not have the communications resources to fully utilize their forces, and they cannot communicate from one unit to another or from the boats to land because their communications systems are not compatible.
We were able to meet with Gen. Kriangsak Chumanon who is the chief of the Thai Supreme Command. We had a very cordial, informative meeting. We were able to establish a line of communication which did not previously exist. After reviewing the Thai enforcement programs, he asked that the Thai police be provided sophisticated weapons and communication equipment so that they will be on equal footing with the insurgents. We feel that the United States should increase our aid to Thailand for narcotics enforcement support; this includes. M-16's. General Kriangsak expressed concern about the aerial survey which we feel is essential to learning more about the production areas. The U.N. representatives have stressed the importance of this project because it is essential to determine the soil conditions in the highlands for agronomic reasons. This is the sort of background research which will have to be done before a regional development plan will be implemented.
General Kriangsak has reservations about the survey, which has been stalled for 2 years, and yet he will work to have it undertaken. He was very concerned over the footdragging which has accompanied the Thais' request for helicopters which we endorsed 3 years ago. We pledged to deliver seven helicopters 3 years ago for narcotics enforcement and to date we have given them only two. On top of this, we have now promised the Burmese 5 helicopters which they are scheduled to receive before delivery of the helicopters promised Thailand. General Kriangsak said that this sort of delay undermines our verbal statements which claim that we are so committed to the war on drugs. We feel that the AID supervision of this request has been deplorable,