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THE OPIUM KINGS

Air date: May 20, 1997
Written and directed by Adrian Cowell

ADRIAN COWELL: The mountains of eastern Burma have been cursed by war and cursed by opium so that today their Shan people are caught in a vicious trap. It's a trap corrupted by opium and its derivatives: morphine and heroin. And it's bloodied by one of the cruelest tyrannies on earth. For decades I've watched the world's largest traffic in narcotics and Burma's civil war feed on each other until they've become monsters of destruction.

ANNOUNCER: This is a story that goes back to 1964, when filmmaker Adrian Cowell first traveled into one of the most remote parts of Burma to film the local tribespeople and found himself drawn into the dangerous politics of opium.

ADRIAN COWELL: Chris Mingus, who is the cameraman who went in with me on the worst part of this, has always said he wished he'd never gone, now that he knew what happened, and he'd never go back again. I'm a more_ I come from people who feel, well, if you suffered a hell of a lot, surely you've got to get something out of it.

ANNOUNCER: Over the next 30 years, Cowell would travel back again and again to try to unravel the mysteries of the heroin trade.

ADRIAN COWELL: Many a time, when we were there in the '70s, we just wondered how we had ever got ourselves into such a mess.

ANNOUNCER: Through the years of civil war, Cowell followed the train of the heroin convoys out of Burma to Thailand and found his way into the mountain fortress of the man who controlled the drug trade. Tonight on FRONTLINE, an adventure of epic scale, "The Opium Kings."

ADRIAN COWELL: This story begins on the borders of Thailand and China, in a remote part of Burma called Shan State. Cameraman Chris Mingus and I first entered with the newly born Shan resistance movement and had no premonition of the manic saga we would gradually slide into.

The revolutionaries were organizing the people in defense of democracy and against the Burmese general Ne Win. He had recently seized power in a military coup, abolishing the constitution and the parliament under which the Shan and other minority peoples had joined the union of Burma. But it needed a little optimism to think of this as a military machine capable of victory. Their tactics also seemed to lack any goal beyond shooting up Burmese patrols_ good for morale, but not much else.

And so we watched the revolutionaries take their next, fateful step. Opium was the Shan farmers' only source of ready money, so the guerrillas began to take 10 percent as a tax and transported it to Thailand to buy guns. And so the cause of democracy fell under the spell of the "moon flower," the Yunan poppy whose refined sap enslaves its addicts. The revolution's equal dependence on narcotics has haunted Shan State, as we were to see during our next visit.

[on-camera] Most of the people got into it without really realizing what they were getting into. And gradually, as opium dominates your taxation system and your military system more and more, that begins to twist what you're fighting for and who you are. And it's a dangerous thing.

[In 1972, Adrian Cowell returned to the mountains of eastern Burma.]

ADRIAN COWELL: When we joined the Shan State army, their marching songs seemed strangely familiar until we learned that many Shans had been to mission schools and "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Auld Lang Syne" had been borrowed as revolutionary songs. Their collective leadership was planning to capture a monopoly of the opium trade.

SAO BOON TAI: We have been discussing what to do. In two or three years we may be crushed between the Burmese Government and the Communists unless we can find enough money to increase our army. Unfortunately, the only big source of money in Shan State is opium. We gradually hope to take over most of the opium trade.

ADRIAN COWELL: The only sure way to control and tax narcotics is in the field. But as there were millions of fields, the guerrillas had decided instead to tax the convoys which exported the opium. These convoys had originally been escorted by revolutionaries like the ones we'd filmed 10 years before, but many had since been bribed to go over to the Burmese government. In return for a government license to trade opium, the ex-revolutionaries worked as a militia for the Burmese, adding confusion to this story by switching from side to side.

The most powerful of the militia leaders was Lo Hsin Han, the famous king of opium. The revolutionaries' aim was to capture one of the king of opium's giant convoys which would soon come up from Thailand to collect the new opium harvest. Its capture would change the balance of power in the opium traffic. The first poppies were already in flower when the convoy set out. Shan spies counted 700 mules and also filmed for us. To prevent the convoy being reinforced by truck, the roads were blown.

The mules are very hard to capture because they can divert onto any side track and that's exactly what happened. We were with the revolutionaries waiting in ambush as the convoy came up this valley, but the convoy turned suddenly and attacked another revolutionary unit blocking their escape on the other side of the mountain.

1st OFFICER: [subtitles] The troops must not retreat. They must resist the enemy attack. Do you hear? Over.

2nd OFFICER: [subtitles] I hear.

ADRIAN COWELL: But like all the convoys of the future, this convoy had escaped, except for 11 mule loads of contraband from Thailand. The chief of staff barely concealed his embarrassment.

KUN SIANG: [through interpreter] We should say it is very unlucky for our troops and enemies escape.

ADRIAN COWELL: [interviewing] Where have they gone to?

KUN SIANG: [through interpreter] I think now they are having their breakfast at Lashio.

ADRIAN COWELL: The booty was like a taunt from the gods: underpants, underpants with the ironic brand name James Bond 007. The film unit's share was two Dr. West toothbrushes. So the first campaign against the convoys came to its inglorious but prophetic end. [on-camera] Basically, a mule convoy cannot move faster than a man. You move at about the same pace as the soldiers moving against you. So if you've got forces here and a mule convoy going down there, that convoy cannot get around these soldiers. So what do they do? At the time that this convoy moves that way, they bring another convoy the other way, yes? Then they launch other convoys in different directions, and these are feints. You don't know which convoy actually has opium on it. That was extremely sophisticated and I don't think I've heard of any other sort of warfare of this sort, that I saw there. This is old Chinese tactics. And of course, many of the senior officers were officers who had been trained in nationalist Chinese military academies.

[In 1973, under pressure from the U.S., the Burmese dictator ordered Lo Hsin Han to disband his army. LoHsin Han began to look for new allies.]

ADRIAN COWELL: Who, one day, did we see marching out of the jungle, but the opium king. The revolutionaries had recently killed 100 of his militia, but no one was impolite enough to mention the fact. Under the umbrella: Lo Hsin Han, the king of opium. [on-camera] That was, for us, stunning. I mean, if you think, you spend a six-month campaign trying to wipe out this man and he turns up and says, "Hi boys." It really was.

[voice-over] The revolutionaries now hoped -- with the king of opium's help -- to control the opium trade at its source in the field and to propose a radical alternative to the traffic. They insisted he sell his narcotics to the United States for burning. They hoped the U.S. would then apply pressure to stop the Burmese oppression of the Shans.

SAO BOON TAI, Vice President: These proposals we have just signed are to the U.S. Narcotics Bureau and to any organization which is prepared to buy and burn the opium in the Shan State. We are also prepared to bring in narcotics agents into Shan State and to check on anything they want to check. But, of course, if our proposal is not accepted, then the needs of our people and the need of our revolution will force us to go on with the opium trade.

ADRIAN COWELL: The king of opium already controlled more than half the traffic and was sure the other opium militias would join him.

[interviewing] [subtitles] How much opium do you handle a year?

LO HSIN HAN: [subtitles] Roughly, and on average, 180 tons a year.

ADRIAN COWELL: [subtitles] How much morphine and heroin do you make?

LO HSIN HAN: [subtitles] We don't make heroin. Other Tachilek traders do. We handle raw opium, morphine, and Phyi Tzue.

ADRIAN COWELL: [on-camera] The first thing we asked he was how much of the opium trade did he control and he actually replied in the interview quite openly. So that in that sense, I think he was direct. He was never not straight with us. He obviously was a man of power and a dangerous man. I mean, any revolutionary leader has to, to survive, kill lots of people. So there's no question, you know, that he is a war lord from that time, but he was very direct and very straight with us.

[voice-over] As the combined armies took the proposals to Thailand, the opium king told us they were carrying five tons of morphine, enough to provide six months' heroin for all the addicts of America. As he approached the border of Thailand, the king of opium seemed confident the Americans would welcome his proposals. What he didn't foresee was that the American Drug Enforcement Administration would have his proposals suppressed. With Lo Hsin Han, the five tons of morphine were to wait in the jungle. And as he was nervous of approaching the DEA, I agreed to deliver the proposals.

Our first car ride, our first traffic jam for a year and a half. Monday morning, the U.S. embassy, Bangkok. I delivered the Shan offer: a third of the world's heroin for only $12 million.

But just a few hours after I left, far away in the mountains the king of opium was arrested. In fact, the king of opium had entered Thailand with 100 soldiers. A dozen Thai police arrived by helicopter and invited the opium king to negotiate. His Shan interpreter went with him and the headman swears they entered the helicopter willingly. They were flown to the police barracks near Chiengmai and arrested.

When the king of opium and the interpreter were extradited from Bangkok to Burma, they looked stunned. The DEA publicized this as the enforcement triumph of the year, but in fact it had no effect whatever in reducing the flow of narcotics. The king of opium knew the least he faced was years in a Burmese jail. Ruefully, I waved to Lo Hsin Han and he waved back. [voice-over] I said, "Why on earth did you get into that helicopter?" And he said, "Well, I thought I was going to talk to the Americans." In that sense it was naive. Lo Hsin Han is legitimately a gambler. I mean, quite obviously a gambler, not only when he made his bid to be the biggest man in the opium trade, but when he switched sides. I mean, that was an enormous gamble. And this was another gamble.

[Lo Hsin Han was extradited to Burma on August 2, 1973. He was sentenced to death.]

ADRIAN COWELL: The removal of its king naturally left a power vacuum at the head of the opium trade, so the main result of the betrayal was to make a present of the traffic to the revolutionaries who'd failed to capture it. Soon after, they exchanged a hostage for one of their leaders who'd been captured some years before.

Once out of jail, Khun Sa became the second "king of opium," building up a near monopoly of the traffic.

Incredibly, his revolutionary aims led him to revive his predecessor's offer by inviting the narcotics committee of the United States Congress to fly to his base in Thailand.

[April 16, 1977] As we had introduced Joe Nellis, chief counsel of the Congressional committee, we were allowed to film this historic meeting, for the second king of opium had asked the United States to plan the long-term eradication of the poppy and, in the meantime, to buy up the crop.

JOE NELLIS: Let me ask Khun Sa what would have to be done to eliminate opium production in the Shan State?

KHUN SA: [through interpreter] We want you to help make contact to the persons, you know, who can come and collect all the opium grown in our country, either to throw it or to burn it.

ADRIAN COWELL: In the summer of 1977, the narcotics committee of the U.S. Congress took the Shan opium proposals to the White House of the new president, Jimmy Carter. The debate about the proposals started with a video of the committee's visit to Khun Sa. Backing the proposals was Lester Wolff, chairman of the Congressional committee on narcotics. Opposed was President Carter's aide, Peter Bourne, who was in charge of all drugs policy.

LESTER WOLFF: [June 24, 1977] I think the important element that we would like to discuss with you today is this whole question of the offer that has been made to us because it's quite obvious that what we're doing now has not accomplished the desired result. And I know that.

PETER BOURNE: I'm not sure that there are any total victories or total losses, that the question is to move from one strategy to another, keep the traffickers constantly off guard, and for us to stay when--

ADRIAN COWELL: Over the coming weeks, the debate would resolve into two clearly defined arguments. Lester Wolff, Joe Nellis, and their committee wanted to buy up Shan opium, as the first stage to negotiating an end to its cultivation. But Peter Bourne and his government departments were against negotiations. They wanted to give the Burmese army airplanes to attack Shan convoys. The debate continued until the White House took its all too predictable decision to the Congress.

LESTER WOLFF: [July 12, 1977] --the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

PETER BOURNE: I do.

LESTER WOLFF: Please proceed.

PETER BOURNE: I would like to just address briefly, Mr. Chairman, the policy alternatives suggested for consideration in the committee's report on your recent visit to South-East Asia- that is the preemptive purchase of opium from the Shan United Army. I have found not a single person who felt this concept had any validity. It is unthinkable that any representative of this administration would negotiate with representatives of insurgent groups opposed to the legitimate government of Burma, much less use the American taxpayers' dollars for a program that would, in effect, provide a subsidy for narcotic traffickers and arms for an insurrection. The so-called Shan United Army is led by a ruthless band of ethnic Chinese opium warlords--

ADRIAN COWELL: And so the United States rejected the second king of opium's offer. The United States would soon be providing satellite intelligence about Shan convoys. They also gave the Burmese military junta five troop-carrying planes to transport their soldiers to forward airstrips. There American diplomats saw officers briefing soldiers about the convoy they were about to attack. They then transferred to two dozen U.S.-donated helicopters, though, U.S. officials were never permitted to go with them. The reason was revealed when we later learned that the 10-year campaign completely failed to stop or capture a single convoy.

[interviewing] Presumably, the purpose of giving troop-carrying planes was to attack the convoys. What percentage, roughly, did they succeed in capturing? Did they capture 1 per cent?

WILLIAM DAVNIE, Bureau of International Narcotics, State Department: I suspect-- I don't have the numbers, you know, right off the top of my head. I suspect that would be high. I mean, in most years in Burma we've looked at seizure rates-- and of course we're dealing with estimates of-- of export. But we're dealing with seizure rates in the decimal point range.

ADRIAN COWELL: [on-camera] Why did they not succeed in ever capturing a single convoy? Why did they not succeed in stopping in any way? The reason is that in jungle, in jungle areas, you could go off in all sorts of directions, and a helicopter has the one disadvantage that unless somebody has a loud Walkman blasting into his ears, he's going to hear it, yeah? And those troops can just vanish like that. A mule isn't like a truck, you know. It can go-- it can just go off the trail into the jungle, anything like that, so that-- and they were never effective.

[The U.S. provided $80 million in anti-drug militaryaid. All aid ceased in 1988 after the massacre of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators by the Burmese military. In 1992, Adrian Cowell returned to Shan State.]

ADRIAN COWELL: [on-camera] Living in Khun Sa's capital was like living not in an opera, in a sort of comic opera. I mean, there were mad things going on all the time, really mad things, and that comes from the fact that they are on the fringe of the legal world. I mean, there are all sorts of mercenaries going up there, trying to sell them different sorts of weapons.

There were all sorts of other deals going on which were not narcotics deals, especially gem deals and things like that. So that from the point of view of people who live in a more stable society, it was a slightly mad society, but it came from the fact that it was a society outside the legal parameters of the international community.

INTERVIEWER: A dangerous society?

ADRIAN COWELL: Yes. If you did something wrong, you could die.

[voice-over] Like waves in a sea of rock, the Shan mountains of eastern Burma seem capable of deterring any invader. When I was here 20 years ago, most guerrilla armies still only numbered 1,000, but by 1992 the Shan training school was turning out over 4,000 recruits a year. Yet the Shans had never fought a major battle. So is their commander, Khun Sa, a revolutionary or is he a drug baron?

DON FERRARONE, Drug Enforcement Administration: When you look out on the universe of the major trafficking organizations throughout the world, he fits in there right up in the top five. His organization alone accounts for 60 percent, 70 percent of the heroin that's in the United States. Khun Sa was doubling his capacity, his ability to produce heroin, every 10 years. The amounts that were coming out were staggering.

ADRIAN COWELL: The American Drug Enforcement Administration -- the DEA -- has so demonized Khun Sa that it's hard to separate the Hollywood villain from the political figure.

KHUN SA: [subtitles] Hong Kong film people don't understand the heroin business.

ADRIAN COWELL: Perhaps he's right, but the caricature does pose a question. If we scratch the revolutionary, will we find this? Through an interpreter, I asked if he enjoyed being a Hollywood demon.

KHUN SA: [subtitles] The movie company is just making money. It's not important that they defame me. What's important is that they harm the Shan cause. More than 10 million people are dying and suffering. It's not fair to the Shan people.

ADRIAN COWELL: But the Shans now produce two thirds of the world's heroin. So we showed Khun Sa an article in which an English mother accused him of killing her addict daughter.

KHUN SA: [subtitles] If the DEA had agreed in 1977 to uproot opium, her daughter wouldn't have died. I want to help, but they won't let me. I sympathize with her. She shouldn't blame Khun Sa, but the DEA.

ADRIAN COWELL: But as the interpreter translated, we could see that Khun Sa could not take his eyes off the article, as if it had really got under his skin. Then he brought it up again.

KHUN SA: [subtitles] You can see our men carry rifles. They want to liberate Shan State and opium and Shan politics are inter-twined. Give the Shans independence and we'll do away with opium without one cent of outside help. The people will do it, even if they have to eat roots.

ADRIAN COWELL: If opium means a bargain with the devil, then Khun Sa does not like to be reminded of it.

ROBERT GELBARD, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Affairs: Khun Sa is a criminal. The Shan United Army -- and I use that in quotes -- is a criminal organization. They're responsible for poisoning tens of thousands of people.

ADRIAN COWELL: The United States has formally indicted Khun Sa and claims he's using politics to traffic in narcotics. Yet if you watch, Khun Sa appears to be a revolutionary using opium to support his army. But there's no way of proving he's not play-acting in order to control the world's largest source of heroin. That's the puzzle. Where on earth does Khun Sa think he's going?

As I crossed into the guerrilla region with cameraman Ned Johnston, the first of the opium harvest was coming the other way.

SIANG JOE: The traders brought in 25 viss of opiates -- raw opiates -- and we tax 100 kyatts for a viss.

ADRIAN COWELL: [interviewing] What percentage of the MTA's annual income comes from opiates? Is it half or--

SIANG JOE: It's partial. Partially. I couldn't mention the right figure, but I think it's only partially.

ADRIAN COWELL: Where will the opium go now?

SIANG JOE: I presume they have the buyers somewhere in the jungles.

ADRIAN COWELL: Are those buyers from heroin factories?

SIANG JOE: I don't know, sir.

ADRIAN COWELL: [voice-over] As the opium moved on towards the factories, our column traveled towards the fields and the war, into the opium mountains regularly raided by the Burmese Army. Huge fields of poppies were everywhere and we were surprised by the density of the crop and how every spare patch of land was devoted to opium. Most families were growing twice as much, some five times as much, as the amounts I recorded in the 1970s. In village after village we learned that Burmese plundering had made it impossible to survive without opium.

MAN WITH SLIT LIP: [subtitles] They killed our pigs and cows. They beat us up. They took our chickens.

ADRIAN COWELL: [subtitles] What happened to your mouth?

MAN WITH SLIT LIP: [subtitles] When I didn't tell them what they wanted to know, they sliced my mouth.

ADRIAN COWELL: [voice-over] Opium in the field is too laborious for a Burmese soldier to harvest on his own and once out of the field is such a small packet that it's easy to hide, unlike rice or cattle. So opium is the only crop the Burmese cannot loot. So far as I could see, it is the Shan family's only insurance against starvation. The white sap of the Yunan poppy bleeds in ever increasing quantities, driven by ever increasing looting and brutality against these ever more desperate people.

[on-camera] Great atrocities were constantly committed, primarily by the Burmese, but the guerrillas always had the restraint that you depended on the village people to give you information and to lie for you to the Burmese. So that that restrained the natural brutality of an armed man in an unarmed society. So I'm not saying the guerrillas didn't do bad things to the villagers, but that's naturally less. The Burmese did many, many very brutal things, and they still are. I mean, the Burmese regime now is probably the most brutal, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which is the U.S.-based one here-- the most brutal regime in the world.

[voice-over] Recently, Shan State has provided the main resistance to the dictatorship, and south of the river Shaween there's an area completely liberated by the Shan army. This part of Shan State is free because the Burmese are unable to cross the Salween Gorge. But in 1994 the Burmese built a bridgehead from the east to attack the liberated part of Shan State without crossing the River.

Soon after, a large Shan column was sent off to attack the Burmese bridgehead and it began to look as if military action might soon clarify the enigma of Khun Sa. Could he be planning to refute the DEA and his other critics by becoming the savior of his country?

The target of the Shan attack was the valley of Mong Kyawt. Major Yot Serk was to command the assault and pointed out the location of the first Burmese fort. That evening the clouds built up and the Shans attacked in heavy rain during the night. Next day the Shan soldiers at the fort of Mahin Gong looked relieved but drained by the attack. It looked as though Khun Sa was truly launched on the long struggle for independence.

The Shan outposts held off what were only minor attacks in the east and the Shans retaliated against the Burmese border town of Tachilek. Shan tracers pass over this Burmese and this Shan fires a grenade at him. During 1995, the Shans held their own in the war, but they would soon be brought to their knees by narcotics.

In Rangoon, the Burmese generals had for some years been keeping another card up their uniformed sleeves. The chief of military intelligence, General Khin Nyunt, had a concealed joker in the form of our old friend, the first king of opium. Lo Hsin Han's death sentence was reduced to eight years, when he was released on the orders of his future patron, the chief of intelligence, General Khin Nyunt.

The Burmese went on helping Lo Hsin Han become a sort of godfather to the traffickers in the principal opium-growing regions of the Wa and Kokang. There he negotiated a ceasefire between the Burmese and the leader of Kokang's traffickers. The deal Lo Hsin Han brokered was Kokang's unrestricted right to manufacture and distribute its heroin, for the more his groups controlled the narcotics traffic, the more Lo Hsin Han was able to undercut economically the enemy the Burmese could not defeat militarily: Khun Sa. [on-camera] The important thing that actually undercut Khun Sa was, one, the Kokang and Wa heroin was no longer coming that way and he wasn't getting that tax and, two, that his forces in the middle of Shan state mutinied in August, 1995, and that mutiny was-- not only took that group away, but more and more people were deserting from other areas. It took time for all of that to impact on Khun Sa, but there's no question that Lo Hsin Han was the key to the changing of that situation, yes.

[voice-over] The economic stranglehold produced increasing strain at Khun Sa's capital. When senior officers became critical of Khun Sa, fearing a landslide of desertions, he surprised and challenged the Shan assembly with a speech of resignation.

KHUN SA: [August 11, 1995] [subtitles] If the majority of you say "We want you", I'll continue doing my duty. But if you don't, then fight on your own. I won't give the army's weapons up to you. I'll deposit my weapons at the monastery. Then let the best man lead.

ADRIAN COWELL: With an ironic laugh and after decades in power, the king of opium resigned his executive offices. At the same time, he sent secret emissaries to the Burmese government and warned his troops of a time of great sorrow ahead. After decades unable to enter this area, the Burmese just walked in-- to a traditional welcome. Somberly, Khun Sa waited to greet the Burmese general. The general had promised him amnesty and to cease blockading his trade routes for narcotics and other goods. Grimly, the troops assembled for a ceremony -- to be filmed by the Burmese government -- which ended all hope of Shan independence. Altogether 12,000 surrendered. Without a shot fired, Burmese troops dominated Khun Sa's capital.

BURMESE GENERAL: [subtitles] I am General Tin Tut of the Eastern Command.

ADRIAN COWELL: He proposed Khun Sa's army should become a pro-government militia, like the Kokang and Wa militias which control most of Burma's narcotics. Thus, by abandoning Shan independence, Khun Sa secured his share of the narcotics traffic and possibly a comfortable retirement.

NICHOLAS BURNS, State Department Spokesman: [January 4, 1996] Given the criminal notoriety of Khun Sa and his organization's extensive involvement in the international heroin trade, we are concerned that this apparent political agreement could facilitate the continued drug-trafficking operations of the Shan United Army. And as you know, this supplies a very large amount of the heroin consumed in the United States. So we are calling on the Burmese government to turn Khun Sa over to United States authorities. Because he is a drug lord, he should be prosecuted in a United States court on narcotics charges.

DON FERRARONE:, Drug Enforcement Administration: We'd love to get our hands on Khun Sa. And he needs to go to jail. He's a crook, he's a liar and he's a killer and he's caused the death of thousands of people in the United States over a 30-year period. Rather than put him in a mansion in Rangoon, we have a little room for him in the eastern district in Brooklyn waiting for him. It's got his name on it.

ADRIAN COWELL: If all this resolves the enigma of Khun Sa, it does little to solve the opium problem. And Khun Sa was his cryptic self when I suggested the DEA was chasing him around in circles, like the music box on his table.

KHUN SA: [subtitles] They go on making arrests, like in the movies. It's their way of making money. But, like this, things just go 'round and 'round. A war has an aim: to capture money, gold, a country. Because there's an aim, war must end one day. But the way they deal with it, the drug problem has no end because there's no goal.

ADRIAN COWELL: The war on drugs is a ceaseless merry-go-round, as the history of the kings of opium reveals over and over again to the immense profit of everyone on board and to the intense suffering of the addicts and the Shan people. [on-camera] Khun Sa was an intelligent man who had the courage to use power and he may have used it wrongfully, but, I mean, he was someone who came from more or less nowhere, saw that the secret to this guerrilla war was to build up the economic resources to put into a major army, and he did that. What he betrayed, of course, was the thousands of young men who joined his army and got paid very little for it and who fought for him all those years and the thousands who got killed, as well. And that's what many Shan people cannot forgive him for.

[Khun Sa lives comfortable in Rangoon and is looking for business opportunities. Lo Hsin Han remains one of the richest men in Burma. His businesses include a hotel, a contract to own and operate a new port in Rangoon and a new toll road that runs into the heart of Burma's opium fields.

Adrian Cowell spent the decade of the '80s documenting the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest. Today he is deep in the rain forest again, trying to film previously uncontacted Indian tribes.]

ANNOUNCER: Check out FRONTLINE online at this address for more on the opium and heroin trade. Find out how four U.S. drug czars would crack down on heroin. Explore the process that turns poppy flowers into heroin. Read about heroin and the brain and how addiction to it works. Explore much more at FRONTLINE on-line at www.pbs.org. Next time on FRONTLINE, a modern-day witch hunt. ["...more dramatic than John Grisham could ever conceive..." USA Today] Seven people accused and indicted for unspeakable crimes. ["...likely to leave the audience shaken..." The Wall Street Journal] Eight years later, they must choose between getting back their lives and the truth.

SCOTT PRIVOTT: If I'm a monster, then why did they offer me a plea?

ANNOUNCER: FRONTLINE's investigation of the Little Rascals day care case continues with shocking new events. ["A meticulous, gut-churning report." Los Angeles Times] "Innocence Lost: The Plea" next time on FRONTLINE.

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CHRISTIAN M. RESTIFO: [Bloomington, IN] Dear FRONTLINE-- As someone who has been involved with nuclear power, I have felt my skin crawl every time a typical news article or T.V. spot totally distorted the facts about nuclear power. Your piece was refreshingly calm, balanced and grounded in good science and engineering. Everything that the physicists and engineers said has been known throughout the industry for decades.

PATRICIA MILLIGAN: [Forked River, NJ] Dear FRONTLINE-- As a nuclear worker, I found your story to be honest and to the point. I have been frustrated for years dealing with the irrational fears of nuclear power. At times I don't even bother to tell people what I do for a living, just to avoid the hassle. Thanks again for your excellent coverage of our industry, an industry that should be making up a large part of America's energy needs, but instead finds itself dying out.

HAYDEN MATHEWS: [Burke, VA] Dear FRONTLINE-- I began viewing the program with a strong "no nukes" bias, but was pleasantly surprised. Your program has prompted me to revisit the data on nuclear power, reexamine my views and make a fair and equitable reassessment of the overall issue. Programs like this are great. They make me stop and take stock of my beliefs and the basis for those beliefs. Bravo.

ANNOUNCER: Let us know what you thought about tonight's program by fax [(617) 254-0243], by e-mail [frontline@pbs.org] or by the U.S. mail [DEAR FRONTLINE, 125 Western Ave., Boston, MA 02134]. THE OPIUM KINGS

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