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The Heroin Wars - The Opium Convoys

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The first program in the series 'The Heroin Wars' picks up the story in the 1960s when the Burmese Army seized power in a coup sweeping aside the constitution and Parliament. The Shans, who had only recently joined the Burmese Union, began their war of independence. Opium was the Shan farmers' only source of ready money and the guerillas began to take 10% of the crop as a tax and transported it in convoys to Thailand to buy guns. And so a deadly alliance was born.

In the 1970s, as part of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs, the US joined in an all-out attack on the convoys and, using the Thai police, sent an invitation to Lo Hsing-Han, the first 'King of Opium', to negotiate an end to the opium trade, only to have him arrested and thereby ensure that the opium trade would continue unabated under the second 'King of Opium', Khun Sa.

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