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 The Traffic in Narcotics

Historical References

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United States Commissioner of Narcotics



United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Former Chairman, Legislative Commission to Study Narcotics, General Assembly of New Jersey



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Copyright, 1953, by Funk & Wagnalls, Company


The Traffic in Narcotics Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 53-6984 Copyright under the articles of the Copyright Convention of the Pan American Republics and the United States. Printed in the United States of America





THE POPPY, THE SYMBOL OF SLEEP AND DEATH, IS AGE-OLD IN THE lore of antiquity. On the clay tablets of the Sumerians it was recorded that the juice of the poppy was "collected in the early morning," perhaps before the Eastern sun should have tempered its anodyne. This people of the land of Sumer in lower Mesopotamia--- now the Arab kingdom of Iraq--- cultivated the poppy plant five thousand years B.C. in order to extract its juice; gil was the name they gave it which translated means joy or rejoicing, and this name is still used today for opium in some parts of the world.

It was the Babylonians, inheritors of the Sumerian civilization, who, with their expanding empire, spread the knowledge of the poppy's medicinal properties eastward to Persia and westward to Egypt where its use as a remedy for human ailments was known as early as 1550 B.C. The Greeks, too, early learned its uses, for it is from their word, opion, juice of the poppy, that our Latinized word comes. The poppy was old in Greek legend before Homer in the Iliad, recounting a decoction of it used by Helen Of Troy, said that it had the power of "inducing forgetfulness of pain and the sense of evil." In the fourth century B.C. Hippocrates of Cos thought well of it and recommended "drinkIng the juice of the white poppy mixed with the seed of the nettle."

From then on many well-known writers extolled with enthusiasm the virtues of confections containing opium, and the use

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of the therapeutic drug spread quickly through the Roman world, with itinerant quacks the means of popularizing it for a variety of lesser ailments.

The rise of Mohammedanism provided another stimulus with its concept of the separateness of the spiritual and physical nature. This doctrine permitted a freer approach to scientific observation and analysis, much less trammeled by the philosophic and religious mores of their contemporaries. Arabic doctors, both Moslem and Christian, were prodigal in the use of opium in their cures; among others, it became used as a specific for diarrhea and scores died of overdosage of the drug. It can be said, in passing, that until the twelfth century the use of opium was largely confined to medicinal purposes.

It was during the tenth century that knowledge of the famed Arabic pharmaeopoeia was taken to China by Arab traders and traveling physicians and with them went the drug itself. In China, too, it was first used as a remedy for dysentery. Later its use became wide-spread when it was found that it enabled a teeming people to exist on very little food during times of famine, a problem current throughout Chinese history.

Eastward from its ancient home through Persia to India was another road the poppy traveled to become naturalized. That it thrived there is evidenced by the Portuguese Barbosa, companion and friend of Magellan, who in 1511 could write of the "opium which the most of the Moors and Indians eat." It is also thought that, because their religion forbade the use of alcohol, the Brahmin priesthood of India became users of opium as a sublimating substitute. To India Chinese junks sailed the long, arduous voyage around the Malayan peninsula to secure the opium that became the beginnings of the "traffic" as we use the word today. As the eighteenth century approached, a rapid increase in the importation of opium began through the hands of the Portuguese, and still later through the agency of the famous--- or infamous--- East India Company.

Opium was not unknown in western Europe. A famous physician climbed the proverbial ladder of success in the 1500's as a result of his bold dosages of the drug for his patients. That the drug would resist poison, deafness, asthma., coughing, colic,




jaundice, fever, leprosy, female troubles, and melancholy was among the claims of these practitioners of the healing arts. Turner, first English herbalist, in 1551 says of the poppy, "how excellent is that flower in the disease of the pleurisie." And again quaintly says of an over-dosed patient, "Put stynkynge thynges unto hys nose," to awaken him.


At first used medicinally in China, opium was no serious social problem--- with the exception of the unaccounted-for deaths from overdosage--- until a Manchu emperor from the North conquered Amoy, in Fukien Province on the coast, and the island of Formosa in 1683, and his soldiers learned of the "delight" of opium smoking from the inhabitants there. Still it was not a serious menace to Chinese civilization until European traders began their work of exploitation.

Portuguese traders from their footholds in India were the first of these Western traffickers; their initial freight of 200 chests in 1729 increased fivefold within the ensuing forty years. Increasing use of the drug created a widening demand for it among the Chinese and eventually the wall of Chinese isolation was broken through by the British who secured the open-door policy for trade. The British-chartered East India Company and its successors (1600-1874) sold freely to Chinese merchants. By 1796--- short sixty years-the welfare of the Chinese people was menaced seriously by what, a century before, had been considered "a minor article of domestic commerce." The Emperor Yung Chen was the first to issue an edict against the habit-forming smoke. His proclamation, initiating a series of laws against opium smoking, said nothing, however, about the steady tide of opium flooding China from foreign ports. Finally, in 1800, the problem waxed grave in China, and the importation and the cultivation of the opium poppy were prohibited. But in spite of the law, the opium trade continued, growing unabated.

"How much foreign mud [opium] do you have on board?"

The speaker--- a corrupt Chinese port official; the person to whom the inquiry was directed-the captain of a British clipper; the year---




1834; the place--- the deck of the clipper, anchored some five hundred yards off Swatow.

This scene was repeated innumerable times at ports up and down the China coast in the early 1830's. It was not long before the foreign mud became the casus belli for the Opium War between Great Britain and China which was terminated by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. A résumé of the first great traffic in opium and its impact upon subsequent events provides an excellent backdrop for the situation today.


In the early days of the eighteenth century the British, following the venturesome Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish had established a trading base at Canton where they soon outstripped in activity their European competitors. From the beginning and, in fact until the Treaty of Nanking abrogated them, the trade of the British, together, with that of other Europeans, was restricted by regulations devised by the Chinese to keep the foreigners at arm's length, yet permitting the Chinese to continue to export their teas and silks and to receive desired English goods. The export of Chinese commodities far exceeded the imports of British goods and this resulted in an adverse cash balance to the British traders.. Initially these debits had been discharged by silver payments, but by the close of the nineteenth century there was found a new commodity that balanced the books and ultimately provoked a war; that commodity was opium.

The East India Company had exercised a controlling government-sponsored monopoly of all British-Asiatic trade since the early 1600's. The cultivation of opium in India was included in this monopoly. The entire Indian crop was sold to independent merchants at the famous Calcutta auctions. In turn, these firms shipped opium to the China coast where, with the aid of dishonest Chinese officials, it was smuggled into the country. This illicit opium traffic, it has been estimated, was several times as great as all the legal trade combined.

A clear picture is presented by relating how Anglo-Chinese




trade operated around the 1830's. Imported into China through legal channels were chiefly cotton and woolen goods worth approximately three million dollars. British interests, however, were exporting from China almost five times that amount in tea and silk and, in addition to and despite this adverse trade balance, were actually exporting Chinese silver, whereas normally they should have been importing it to pay the trade balance between their exports and imports. By what device was this accomplished? The opium traffic provided the means. Under the aegis of the East India Company the independent trading companies would export a few million dollars worth of tea and import many times that amount in opium, thus acquiring large silver balances in their favor. These firms then gave to the East India Company the use of these balances and in return received payment in London. Thus, because the trade balance was tilted in their favor by the opium revenue, British interests were enabled to export considerable silver from China.

The East India Company had obtained virtually a world monopoly of opium due to their control of its cultivation in India, and the funds derived from the yearly auctions at Calcutta comprised a very large and important part of Indian state revenues. This government-granted monopoly was thus the source of a vicious traffic, which the Crown could have effectively delimited, had it so desired, by limiting cultivation in India and prohibiting export. This course, however, would have seriously impaired Indian revenues.

In addition to Indian revenues, the opium trade provided the wherewithal to finance the tea and silk exports from China, and all this was what the mercantile group had carefully encouraged and nurtured and which ultimately was to open up China to free trade. Speaking of the merchants, while their main avowed intent was to open up China to free trade without burdensome restrictions, the fact remained that such a result could only be, and ultimately was, a real boon to the opium traffic, a fact which should not escape unnoticed.

Following minor outbreaks and incidents and futile attempts to compromise the situation, the whole problem really started to localize in early 1839. The Chinese Emperor conferred with one





Lin Tsê hsü, the governor-general of a neighboring province, a completely honest official who had been most successful in suppressing the traffic within his own jurisdiction. The Emperor, concerned both because he received no customs income from the illegal traffic in Indian opium and also because too much silver was leaving the country, was most receptive to the Lin plan for terminating the opium traffic.

Lin's solution was twofold: first, to use whatever pressure was necessary, and second, in order to prevent further traffic in opium, to compel the British to submit to the jurisdiction of the Chinese courts and to accept the death penalty upon conviction if any merchant was found to have violated the Chinese opium laws. Unfortunately for Lin, he grossly underestimated both the rising power and the reaction of the British Government to the idea of being forced to terminate its opium traffic without gaining any other compensating concession. The Emperor was convinced, however, that it was the correct course to pursue and accordingly appointed Lin commissioner to Canton with the powers necessary to stamp out the opium traffic.

Immediately after Lin's arrival at Canton he issued an edict which required that all opium stocks be surrendered within three days, and furthermore that bonds be posted guaranteeing no future imports of opium, and, if any were imported, that the offending individual submit to a Chinese court trial and death by strangling on conviction; the penalty for non-compliance--- the closing down of all trade with China plus the use of force by its army and navy. The pressure was on; a crisis had arrived.

There was considerable demurring on the part of the merchants; additional sanctions by Lin; an attempt to bargain by the merchants; and finally, threats of death to some members of the mercantile community. To this gradual and effective pressure the chief superintendent of the British Colony, a Captain Elliot, finally succumbed since he feared for the lives and safety of the resident merchants and their families. He, therefore, was forced to order that all of the opium be surrendered with the promise that the British Government would then indemnify the merchants for their loss. The opium was turned over and destroyed. This act, of itself, undeniably constituted complete and full recognition




by the British Government of the illegality of the opium traffic. However, this act of recognition only rounded out the picture because Parliament at London had already been studying the problem and concluded it was unwise to abandon this important and lucrative source of revenue.

THE OPIUM WAR, 1840-1842

Such was the situation when the Foreign Minister, Lord Palmerston, prepared to debate the strained Chinese situation in Parliament. Palmerston, under the tutelage of William Jardine, the greatest and most influential of the opium smugglers, expressed a desire that the China market remain open and that he was prepared to employ military force to accomplish it. However, such a war could never be sold to the British people on the basis of Lin's seizure of the opium. The only tactical ground would be a flag-waving appeal to Britain's honor with the hope that all mention of opium would be suppressed. Furthermore, the Chinese could then be forced to reimburse for the opium (which Lin had seized and for which Captain Elliot had agreed, in the name of his Government, to indemnify the British merchants), for it was a certainty that this indemnity consisting of several million pounds sterling, would never be approved by the man in the street if it were to come from his own pockets. Suffice it to say and without relating the intricacies of the parliamentary debate, Palmerston prevailed by a narrow margin and the war was on.

No purpose is served by describing the war itself, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for the English, who then proceeded to dictate the Treaty of Nanking, of August 29, 1842. Under the terms of the treaty five ports, Shanghai, Canton, Foochow, Amoy, and Ningpo, were opened to free trade; the Chinese were required to pay for the opium which Commissioner Lin had seized; Hong Kong was ceded to England; and the Chinese were compelled to bear the cost of the British expedition.

The merchants' group had now succeeded. China was opened to free commerce, and the opium traffic continued to flourish because of its tremendous benefit to Indian revenues. Within ten




years after the war its volume increased almost threefold, and until the traffic was finally terminated by an agreement of May 8, 1911, it continued to be an important source of revenue.


While British policy in connection with this pernicious traffic was inexcusable and indefensible, the fact should not be overlooked that the policy of American officials and merchant-traders in the Far East greatly paralleled that of the British. Commodore Kearney, visiting Hong Kong in 1842, found abundant evidence of American participation in the opium traffic. Two American companies, Russell & Company and Augustine Heard & Company, both of Boston, were large participants, as were other Americans.

While American merchants condemned the opium traffic during the critical period of 1839, by 1853 American traders were again enmeshed in the traffic. The United States Commissioner to China, Humphrey Marshall, was shocked at "the wholesale system of smuggling that is carried on both under the English and American flags, almost in view of Chinese ports, and which in my opinion amounts to a gross and abominable violation of our treaties (in their spirit) with this government [China]." William B. Reed, in 1858, calculated that approximately one fifth of the opium entering Shanghai was carried by American ships. It is thus patent that Americans were as well involved in this disgraceful business, and accordingly must share the onus with the British.


Opium has become an effective and subtle tool of war. The second time China was impregnated with it was before World War II, when Japan was preparing for its invasion of the Chinese mainland and correctly had estimated the power the drug had of undermining the Chinese people, both morally and physically. The Japanese had coldly calculated its devastating value as forerunner to an advancing army; long before the steel missiles began




to fly, opium pellets were sent as a vanguard of the military attack.

Thus there was carried on what can be called a "chemical" warfare against the Chinese. It was the invasion of the country by drugs which some say is just as destructive as a whole series of successful bombing raids. Drugs can all too thoroughly demoralize a nation and expedite its conquest.

Its effectiveness was visible wherever the Japanese army had been. A systematic attempt was undertaken to undermine the Chinese population by making new addicts and by encouraging participation again by those who had once been addicted. Poppy cultivation was re-introduced and followed up by the establishment of a drug factory. The Japanese left no effort unattended.

The story of opium was not a new one to the Chinese and with it they could perhaps deal, but heroin and morphine were different. The first hypodermic syringe of morphine can easily lead to addiction for life. A few whiffs of heroin may be the start of a deadly habit.

To cope with the new problem, the Nanking Government passed a law in 1936 declaring that addicts must present themselves for a cure within a year or suffer the death penalty. Remedial work was accomplished during this period. But when the Japanese set up the Peace Preservation Council in Tientsin in 1937, the Nanking law, it was announced, would no longer apply to the district. The drug habit spread and the function of the anti-narcotic hospital, set up under the law, ground to a halt. Japanese drug-joints sprang up almost in the streets. The proprietors, Japanese and Koreans, were not allowed to sell to the Japanese, but open offers of drugs were made to foreigners and to the Chinese. Tientsin became a drug-ridden city.

During the Japanese occupation, huge quantities of Iranian Opium were arriving at Shanghai for consignment to the Japanese army and to Japanese companies. This was in 1938. The explanation the Japanese gave for the importation was that the opium was being shipped into China for use by a large heroin factory at Shanghai.

In Nanking four groups were chiefly responsible for opium circulation.



They were the Special Service Section of the Japanese army, the so-called Reform Government of Nanking, independent Japanese and Korean drug runners, and Japanese firms. In 1938, one eighth of the Chinese in Nanking were slowly being poisoned by drugs. Foreign observers, medical men, journalists, and missionaries had reported a year earlier that the drug situation there was steadily worsening, for the Chinese local officials and magistrates were unable to prevent its sale.

The Japanese did much to insure the merchandising of drugs. Well-lighted and attractive clinics were opened. Some of them displayed a deceptive red cross. Illuminated street signs led victims from the highways, byways, and side streets to the opium stores and dens. Newspaper advertisements told of the various diseases the drug would allegedly cure. Patients entering a clinic were given a cursory examination by a quack doctor or drug dispenser and then they were listed as sufferers of some disease the cure for which was drugs. Thereafter, as often as they wanted it, heroin or morphine was sold to the patients and in amounts unlimited.


The Report was dated March 10, 1952; it was from the United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs; it showed that the tables had turned. The title of that report was "The Source and Extent of Heroin Traffic in Japan." The Communists were smuggling opium and heroin from China into Japan, the United States, and other countries. Again, the policy of trying to weaken an enemy by subsidizing addiction was at work. This time the free people of the world, fighting against communism and its spread, was the objective, with an enemy who was spreading addiction to swell its coffers and finance a war.

Studies clearly show that the major illicit sources of the world's narcotic supply today are Communist China, Burma, Malaya, India, Japan, Turkey, Thailand, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Italy, and Mexico.


Beginning in 1951 investigations conducted in Italy proved that Italian heroin has been smuggled into the United States and elsewhere since 1948. Five licensed factories there diverted one ton of heroin into illicit channels for smuggling. The Italian Government, recognizing this shocking situation, has undertaken certain remedial measures. In October 1951 the Italian Commission of Public Health passed a decree indefinitely suspending the further production of heroin. It is apparent that further production of heroin in Italy is unwarranted and unnecessary since possibly only 20 kilograms of heroin of the annual production of 200 kilograms were used or needed for Italian medicinal consumption. Twenty kilograms is about 44 pounds.

The pattern of the criminal investigations conducted in Italy by agents of the United States Bureau of Narcotics with the cooperation of the Italian police has been consistent. Gangsters had a virtual monopoly over all of the diverted Italian heroin which they were supplying to the organized narcotic gangs of principal east-coast, midwest, and west-coast American cities. Internationally notorious deportee gangsters in Italy are in control of this traffic.

The foregoing facts, brief and with little detail, supply but the background, since this book is not intended to be a history of the opium traffic. But that history does point up the fact that the present wave of drug addiction in the United States, Canada, Turkey, Egypt, England, Germany, Japan, and in fact, all countries is not something previously unknown to mankind. The misuse of opium has occurred since its discovery. If it weren't for the boon it has afforded in medical therapy, decent people everywhere would certainly never have tolerated its continued existence.

For centuries the poppy has been the symbol of a dangerous instrumentality-of traffic fraught with evil, of unprincipled men who satisfied by it their lust for wealth and power, of amoral nations who compromise for economic reasons and of a potent weapon of aggression. And today it is the Communists of Red China who are exploiting the poppy, who are financing and fostering aggressive warfare through depravity and human misery.




Drug addiction is a cold, calculated, ruthless, systematic plan to undermine by creating new addicts while sustaining the old. It requires all-out action on all levels of government, local, state, and national, as well as by international cooperation. it will take that kind of concerted effort to stamp out drug addiction.