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Track marks to death

The Australian reports (3 March 2005) that what began as a journey designed to end in the back alleys of inner-city Sydney - high-grade heroin cut down and shelled out to hollowed-eyed men and women for $50 a cap - finished instead in a blaze of publicity at Denpasar International Airport in the tourist centre of Bali, with nine young Australians facing the prospect of the firing squad.

But while the "Bali Nine" never got off the ground for the final leg to Sydney, the 8.3kg of heroin strapped to the stomachs and thighs of four couriers had already travelled thousands of kilometres and passed through hundreds of hands.

Like most heroin trafficking that originates in poppy fields in the fertile mountains of Southeast Asia, the journey that finished on the body of a mule began on the back of a donkey. Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keelty named Burma, part of the infamous Golden Triangle encompassing Laos and northern Thailand, as the origin of the Bali Nine's haul. The University of NSW's National Alcohol and Drug Research Centre's senior lecturer, Louisa Degenhardt, estimates 95 per cent of Australia's heroin is produced in the Golden Triangle - and the "vast majority" of that is from Burma.

With Australians unable to cultivate opium poppies at home, but consuming three to eight tonnes of heroin annually, this has been the case for many years, Dr Degenhardt says.

Find the full story here.

Posted by Cynthia on May 3, 2005 at 12:01 AM in Australia, Burma, Cambodia, Heroin, Laos, Opium, Thailand, Vietnam | Permalink