A long spell of hot, dry weather is ensuring yet another bumper opium crop in the infamous Golden Triangle that links Thailand, Burma and Laos.
THAILAND / BURMA / LAOS borders: Golden Triangle:
Golden Triangle opium poppy fields (4 shots)
People picking poppies
Man scraping poppy pod to let raw opium seep out (2 shots)
Woman workers gathering poppies
Man scraping off dried opium from poppy heads
Hill tribe girls husking rice (3 shots)
Women picking coffee and sorting it (5 shots)
Background: A long spell of hot, dry weather is ensuring yet another bumper opium crop in the infamous Golden Triangle that links Thailand, Burma and Laos. The Golden Triangle is expected to produce about 600 tonnes of opium this year -- despite international measures to control production and trafficking. A United Nations report on the illegal narcotics trade, published in January 1984, said the Burmese Government destroyed 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) of the opium crop in 1983. Most of the illegal refineries that turn the sticky, black opium into valuable heroin were in Thailand until 1982, when Thai troops, encouraged by the United States, launched a big offensive against the region's main opium dealer, Chang Chee-Fu. But despite strict law enforcement in Thailand, the United Nations report said the country still has over 500,000 opium addicts. The opium crop is the main source of livelihood for the hill tribes of the Golden Triangle, but they do grow other crops, including coffee and rice. It takes about 10 kilos of opium to produce one kilo of heroin. United States drug officers estimate that of the 6.5 tonnes of heroin likely to be consumed in the U.S. this year, more than a quarter will be produced in the Golden Triangle.