Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Opium Smuggling

21 November 1885
Proa, Makassar
Tropenmuseum Amsterdam on

No commodity was smuggled as often or to such profit in Southeast Asia as opium. In the Dutch East Indies, many Dutch civil servants helped along the contraband trade in opium by receiving payments for their intercessions. Europeans contrabanded the drug in large numbers. In the 1880s and 1890s, other patterns of ethnic participation in opium smuggling make temselves clear in the records. Chinese were among the most frequent offenders. They appear in over 50 percent of all compiled records on seizures. Arabs undertook smuggling journeys as well, and Armenians were large wholesale exporters of the drug too. The local peoples of the archipelago moved opium quietly when they could, often as crew members or passengers on vessels passing through the Indies. The proa Tane Djelei, for instance, en route to Sukadana (Borneo), smuggled three cases of opium and was seized by the authorities on 21 November 1885.

From: Eric Tagliacozzo, Secret Trades, Porous Borders...(2007)185-193