152. Telegram 191974 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Burma1 2


  • International Traffic in Heroin
The problem of narcotics addition in the US has reached serious proportions. Over five percent of the heroin entering the US originates in Burma, Thailand and Laos. The President is profoundly concerned that effective measures be taken to stop the import of opium and its derivatives into the US, and has directed the Departments of State and Justice to take the necessary measures to accomplish this.

You should convey orally to the Minister of Foreign Affairs message along the following lines:

The President is gravely concerned about the consequences of the international narcotics traffic for the US. You should inform him that the US [Page 2] is discussing measures in Europe, the Middle and Far East and Latin America designed to stop this traffic by eliminating the cultivation of opium poppies and the illicit production and transport of morphine and heroin

Burma and its neighbors have been traditional producers of opium for many years and much of the product has been refined into heroin and found its way into the international narcotics traffic. While the US understands the problems in effective control of production in remote areas, we hope that the Burmese government, which has traditionally supported international control measures through the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, will give the most serious consideration to intensifying efforts and devising more effective [Page 3] measures in cooperation with the US and other countries to eliminate this scourge. You should inform the Foreign Minister that you hope to discuss with him soon appropriate measures in which the US, his government and other governments concerned can cooperate to eliminate the narcotics traffic.
Report on reaction by telegram.
In addition to the above approach, Embassy should furnish recommendations on additional steps which might be taken to control the production and export of opium, morphine and heroin from Burma. Such steps might include the substitution of other crops for opium, financial incentives for cooperation with US authorities, US technical assistance to the Government of Burma and improved methods of surveillance and interception of narcotics shipments. You should indicate the [Page 4] advantages and disadvantages of your proposals.
While at present Southeast Asia produces only 5 percent of the heroin entering the US, incentives to increase production in Southeast Asia will grow if suppression measures are effective elsewhere. For this reason you should report any increase in poppy cultivation and new information available on narcotics movements. Instructions on this reporting are also being sent through other channels.
When the results of your demarche on the government of Burma and your recommendations for additional steps have been received and evaluated, further instructions will be forwarded.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, INCO-DRUGS ASIA SE. Confidential. Repeated to Bangkok and Vientiane. Drafted by William W. Thomas, Jr. (EA) on November 7, cleared in EA, S/NM, and AID, and approved by Schwartz.
  2. The telegram transmitted an oral message for the Burmese Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding President Nixon’s concern about international narcotics trafficking.