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Chinese Connection: Cross-Border Drug Trafficking Between Myanmar and China

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2007
117 pages
This paper reports on a 2-year field study of drug trafficking activities between Myanmar (formerly Burma) and China.
Findings show that most drug traffickers are poorly educated, with few employable skills or alternatives for making as much money as they make through drug trafficking. Generally, the traffickers do not belong to street gangs, organized crime groups, or terrorist organizations. Most are risk-takers who work with family members or in alliances with friends or other trusted social contacts. Trafficking operations are carefully planned. Ingenious disguises and strategies are used to evade law enforcement efforts. As reported by government news releases or the media, most drug seizures result from the cultivation of intelligence from informants rather than through checkpoint stops or random inspections at the border. There were no indications of "turf" wars or competition among trafficking groups or street dealers. Drug trafficking and street dealing in China and in most parts of Southeast Asia apparently remain entrepreneurial and fragmented. For trafficking between Myanmar and China, shipments of drugs in large quantities have largely disappeared or perhaps been better concealed. Between drug manufacturers and end users are many and often overlapping layers of transportation and distribution networks, each involving only a few people. The vast majority of subjects in this study were involved in heroin transportation. The field study consisted of interviews with law enforcement officials, community contacts and informants, incarcerated drug traffickers, active street drug dealers, drug addicts, and other researchers in the field. Observations were conducted both inside the Golden Triangle and the surrounding regions. 2 tables, 2 figures, and 83 references

Date Published: April 1, 2007