facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

New Life for Asia’s Golden Triangle

Southeast Asia’s historical heroin hotspot has become a major center for meth production.

Image: 

Now it's meth.
Photo via irrawaddy

By Dirk Hanson

06/03/11

| Share

It was known as the Golden Triangle—the mountainous and rugged region of Northern Laos, together with Thailand and Burma. For decades, it was the place where half the world’s supply of opium was trans-shipped to other countries around the world. Starting with the Viet Nam War, the Golden Triangle was the money spot, the honey hole in the jungle where all that heroin got its start. Nowadays, with heavy competition from other countries, including Afghanistan and Columbia, things have changed—but not necessarily the way one might think.  While the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime documents an 80% decline in opium production since 1990, CNN’s Andrew Marshall reported this week that the Golden Triangle didn’t die. “It did what any good business does in our globalized age: expand its markets and diversify its product range.” The gold produced there doesn’t come in the form of poppies anymore. The new gold rush in the Golden Triangle came in the form of methamphetamine, starting about ten years ago. Since then, a huge new market for Yaba, meaning “crazy medicine,” has bloomed among Asian young people. “Opium, the thinking goes, is for old people and ‘backward’ hill tribes,” writes Marshall, “while heroin is for losers; but methamphetamine has a social acceptance, particularly among young Asians, that rightly terrifies governments.”

As it turns out, meth has several advantages over the traditional cash crop of opium. Unlike poppies, meth doesn’t grow in fields detectable from the air. It doesn’t, in fact, grow anywhere at all, and the labs where it is clandestinely produced can be dismantled and scattered throughout the rugged terrain in a matter of hours. Police in Thailand, Laos, and Burma seem clueless in the face of the sheer size of the meth business at present. In Thailand, police nabbed 27 million meth pills in 2009, compared with 40 million tabs a year later. And to make matters worse, there has been a recent uptick in the opium trade in the area as well. “Seize 2 million tablets today and the traffickers will make another 10 million tomorrow,” a senior officer with the Royal Thai Police told CNN. “The job is endless.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Helping My Wife Survive Childhood Sexual Abuse

My wife revealed to me that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather. The process of healing has been difficult, but together we are working towards her recovery.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv