‘Godfather of Heroin’ dies in Myanmar

A family source confirmed the death of Lo Hsing Han, once dubbed the “Godfather of Heroin” by the US.

A general view of Mekong River at the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is one of the most extensive drug trafficking areas in Asia [EPA]

A former drug kingpin and business tycoon once dubbed the “Godfather of Heroin” by the US government has died in his home in Myanmar’s main city, a source close to the family said.

Lo Hsing Han died on Saturday in Yangon, the source said. The cause of death of Lo Hsing Han, who is believed to be in his mid-70s, was not immediately known.

Lo Hsing Han’s involvement in the drug trade began more than four decades ago.

In exchange for fighting communists in the region of Kokang, Lo Hsing Han was given permission by then-dictator Ne Win in 1960 to helpto engage in the trafficking of opium and heroin, said Bertil Lintner, author of “The Golden Triangle Opium Trade: An Overview.”

With one of the best-armed militias in Myanmar, also known as Burma, he quickly became one of the region’s most powerful drug kingpins.

Thai police arrested Lo Hsing Han in northern Thailand in 1973. He was handed over to the Burmese government and sentenced to death, commuted later to life in prison for treason.

He was released in 1980 as part of a general amnesty, Lintner said. In 1992, Lo Hsing Han and his son Stephen Law founded the conglomerate Asia World, allegedly as a front for their ongoing dealings in the drug trade, the author said.

They quickly became two of Myanmar’s biggest business tycoons, helping prop up the military junta, winning contracts to run ports, build highways and oversee airports.

The US Department of Treasury, dubbing Lo Hsing Han the “Godfather of Heroin” put him on the financial sanctions list in 2008.

Source: News Agencies