The King of Nepal: Life Before the Drug Wars
Joseph R. Pietri
From the halcyon days of easily accessible drugs to years of government intervention and a surging black market, this tale chronicles a former drug smuggler’s 50-year career in the drug trade, its evolution into a multibillion-dollar business, and the characters he met along the way. The journey begins with the infamous Hippie Hash trail that led from London and Amsterdam overland to Nepal where, prior to the early1970s, hashish was legal and smoked freely in Nepal, India, Afghanistan, and Laos; marijuana and opium were sold openly in Hindu temples in India and much of Asia; and cannabis was widely cultivated in Nepal and Afghanistan for use in food, medicine, and cloth. In documenting the stark contrasts of the ensuing years, the narrative examines the impact of the financial incentives awarded by international institutions such as the U.S. government to outlaw the cultivation of cannabis in Nepal and Afghanistan and to make hashish and opium illegal in Turkey—the demise of the U.S. “good old boy” dope network, the eruption of a violent criminal society, and the birth of a global black market for hard drugs—as well as the schemes smugglers employed to get around customs agents and various regulations.
agreed that the CIA would turn a blind eye to the trade as long as none of the heroin reached the U.S. During the 1980s there was a heroin explosion in Europe, Canada, and Australia and for the first time kilo prices for heroin started to drop. The strategy was to make it cheap, sell it cheap and build up the client base. The price for a kilo of pure Thai White was $10,000 to $15,000 at the time, while the price in Pakistan was one-third of that or less. More heroin was produced in the 1980s
Jerry met us in Bangkok, and told us that our visas were ready. The next day we took our passports in to get our visas. That afternoon, our passports were returned with our six-month Lao visas. It was beautiful, and worth the six hundred dollar fee I paid Harry. Kelly headed back to Colorado, and promised to call upon her return. When Kelly arrived home, she learned that I had been indicted, and that a warrant for my arrest had been issued on May 27th, three days after I left for Thailand. I
spirit and the thought of a U.S. green card made her even more popular to the locals. Practically every day some Lao would propose to Kelly. Some say it was because of her that the Lao Government did not sign an agreement with the Peace Corps. The idea of 24 young Americans running around like Kelly, and infecting their society with Western values scared the Lao, and so they passed. Dutch Bob was overdue with my funds, so Kelly and I crossed the Mekong and went to Bangkok. We checked into the
It becomes a rarer and rarer occurrence for cases to go to trial in America. Throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s, Laos produced the finest marijuana around. What everyone thought were Thai sticks, actually came from Laos. The Lao government had no choice but to join the drug trade in order to survive. The ganja would be cultivated and packed, and then trucked by the Lao Police to Danang. There, the vacuum-sealed, nitrogen-packed Killer Kong marijuana would be stored, and then loaded onto the
and everyone bowed in front of His Holiness. At the time I met him he was already in his seventies. The Chine Lama One of the more famous stories of the Grand Lama was that during the 1960s there were several attempts to assassinate King Mahendra, the Hindu king of Nepal. He came to the Chine Lama for help, and the Grand Lama gave him an amulet of a miniature phurbu ceremonial dagger. The amulet was supposed to have belonged to the great Buddhist saint Padma Sambava, who is credited with