Lo Hsing-han, the man known as the first drug kingpin, is making a lot of money after he had won contracts for building roads, said SHAN source in the north on 18 July.
After the Lashio - Muse road was upgraded by his Asia World Company in 1998, 4 tollgates (in Lashio, Hsenwi, Kutkhai and at Milestone 105) were set up along the road to levy tolls from the passing motor vehicles. The rates are reported to be as follows:
K. 100 for a saloon van
K. 300 for a pickup
K. 500 for a four or six wheeler
K. 1,000 for an empty 8 - 10 wheelers
(a loaded one pays according to the weights of the merchandise)
One interesting fact is that the vehicles from the ceasefire groups are all exempted, said the source.
"Beginning last year, his Asia Would Company has been upgrading the Hsenwi - Kunlong highway (53 miles) which is nearly finished now", said he. "The next project is the upgrading of Muse - Namkham road (19 miles) which skirts along the Chinese border, and then the Namkham - Bhamo road (50 miles plus)".
Apart from that, Lo, with the help of his son, Stephen Law a.k.a Htun Myint Naing, who is the managing director of the AWC, has taken over the job of improving the Lashio - Nawngkhio highway from the bankrupt Diamond Paris Company owned collectively by the generals' wives.
"News on the grapevine is that he'll also be contracted to improve the roads in the southern Shan State leading from Taunggyi to Kengtung", he added.
The AWC also has building construction contracts in Mandalay as well as Rangoon. "But it does not seem to be able to compete with other firms in this field", said the source.
As for agricultural projects, he is reported to have bought land confiscated by the junta from the local populace. "All of it is along the Hsenwi - Lashio - Hsipaw road, about 50,000 acres".
"Another thing", he finally reported. "The AWC vehicles are never stopped or searched on the way by any checkpoints. I keep hearing from the people here that for anyone who wants his drugs transported, there is no more secure way than by procuring the services of the AWC".