136. Memorandum From the Chief of the Far East Division of the Directorate of Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency (Nelson) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Green)1

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with General Kriangsak on Measures to Discontinue Chinese Irregular Forces Involvement in Opium Traffic

REFERENCE

  • [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] (TDCSDB–315/05276–71)
[Page 297]
1.
Attached herewith is a copy of a message from Bangkok, dated 14 September 1971, relating to a meeting held between Deputy Chief of Mission and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Lt. General Kriangsak Chamanan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command. The report referred to in this message is TDCSDB–315/05276–71, a copy of which has been disseminated to you.
2.
While the account of the meeting with General Kriangsak is very interesting, we are highly skeptical that the Chinese Irregular Forces, which have existed for many years primarily on the revenue obtained from opium traffic, will give up this lucrative trade. We note that under this plan, the 1971 opium crop would not be affected. This cycle could be repeated for the 1972 crop for one reason or another. There is also the good possibility, because of the current public concern over the drug problem, of the American interest or hand surfacing. While we have not yet examined what the repercussions of such event would have on Burmese/U.S. relations, we must assume they would be adversely affected. Additionally, such disclosure would only give credence to Burmese past and present claims and charges of U.S. support and involvement with the Chinese Irregulars.
For the Deputy Director for Plans:
Thomas H. Karamessines 2

Attachment

Message From Bangkok

REFERENCE

  • [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] (TDCSDB–315/05276–71)
1.
The Deputy Chief of Mission [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] meeting with General Kriangsak to determine his progress in resettling the Chinese Irregular Forces (CIF) of Generals Li and Tuan and to press him to take appropriate action to discontinue CIF involvement in opium traffic. In early August, General Kriangsak reported that he had a commitment from both Generals Li and Tuan that their involvement in the opium traffic would cease after the 1971 crop had been disposed of. Last week he reported that he had reconfirmed this commitment with General Tuan which action is supported by the reference report. General Kriangsak stated that he was unable to see [Page 298]General Li during his August trip to the north but that he intends to follow up again with Li later in September.
2.
[5 lines of source text not declassified]
3.
In response to our query as to whether Kriangsak had any thoughts on how the refineries in Tachilek could be put out of business, Kriangsak suggested that he attempt to persuade Li and Tuan to undertake this task. He agreed to sound them out on this possibility at the time of his next trip. Kriangsak asked that we clear this informally with Dawee; this was accomplished on 9 September. He noted that there must be no leak to Li or Tuan concerning American interest or support and we assured him that we are as interested as he in maintaining strict security. Although we did not discuss the specifics of compensation to Li and Tuan for a successful operation, Kriangsak noted that he would wish to relate it to other assistance he is providing for the resettlement of the CIF. In addition, it will be necessary to promise death and disability benefits.
4.
The foregoing may sound far fetched in view of the well earned reputation of the CIF for their heavy involvement in opium trafficking over the years. We are in no position at this point to provide a reliable assessment of Kriangsak’s chances. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reporting over the past year has reflected Kriangsak’s efforts to bring the CIF under control and to regularize their status in Thailand. Though Kriangsak himself remains skeptical about their long term intentions and motivation, he feels that he has made considerable progress in bringing these forces under greater RTG control and that in the process of doing so, his leverage has increased. Tuan and Li have been promised Thai citizenship and their forces will receive permanent resident permits. In return for this and other assistance, the CIF has performed a useful role against Communist insurgents. We believe that Kriangsak’s interest in using CIF against the Tachilek refineries should be encouraged and, if appropriate, assisted if this can be accomplished without any disclosure of the hand of the United States Government. We recognize that if successful, the effort will probably be required on a continuing and not just a one-time basis. Kriangsak appreciates this, too, but rightly wants to approach this cautiously, avoiding long-term commitments pending step-by-step evaluation of the results.
5.
Messrs. Gross and Minnick have been briefed on this possibility and feel we should pursue its feasibility. [1 line of source text not declassified]
6.
Please bring the foregoing to the attention of U. Alexis Johnson and Marshall Green.
  1. Source: Department of State, INR Historical Files, Country Files, Thailand, 1970–71. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Karamessines signed for Nelson above Nelson’s typed signature.