"Godfather of Heroin" Dies at 80

By McCarton Ackerman 07/08/13

Lo Hsing Han was a former warlord, business tycoon and one of the world's biggest heroin traffickers.

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Lo Hsing Han Photo via

Myanmar-based Lo Hsing Han, dubbed the "Godfather of Heroin" by the US government, died over the weekend of a stroke at the age of 80. Mr. Lo was considered to be one of the biggest heroin traffickers in the world for decades while also allegedly engaging in illegal business dealings that helped prop up Myanmar's former oppressive military junta. During the 1960s and 70s, Mr. Lo commanded a militia of 3,000 men who oversaw the cultivation of opium and heroin that was then trafficked from Myanmar (then known as Burma) to Europe and the US. He was reportedly given permission to traffic drugs in exchange for supporting the army's crackdown on Communist forces, but he then switched sides and was arrested for treason in 1973 and given life in prison. He was released in 1980 as part of a general amnesty. Described as the “kingpin of the heroin traffic in Southeast Asia" by President Richard Nixon, Mr. Lo later used his drug profits in the 1990s to build a corporate empire called "Asia World," which was believed to be a cover for drug trafficking. Asia World remains a powerful business conglomerate that is now run by Lo's son, Stephen Law. The father-son duo were placed on the US Department of Treasury financial sanctions list in 2008.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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