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PASSINGS: Lo Hsing Han, Joe Conley

Lo Hsing Han, former drug kingpin and business tycoon in Myanmar, dies at 80; Joe Conley, actor on 'The Waltons,' dies at 85

July 08, 2013
  • For decades, Lo Hsing Han was considered one of the world’s biggest traffickers of heroin. Here, he attends the inauguration ceremony of Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, in 2007.
For decades, Lo Hsing Han was considered one of the world’s biggest… (Khin Maung Win / Associated…)

Lo Hsing Han

Ex-drug kingpin and business tycoon

Lo Hsing Han, 80, a former drug kingpin and business tycoon once dubbed the "Godfather of Heroin" by the U.S. government, died Saturday at his home in Myanmar's main city of Yangon. The cause was not immediately known.

For decades, Lo was considered one of the world's biggest traffickers of heroin.

In the 1990s, he and his son Stephen Law founded the conglomerate Asia World, allegedly as a front for their ongoing dealings in the drug trade, said Bertil Lintner, author of "The Golden Triangle Opium Trade: An Overview."

They quickly became two of Myanmar's most powerful business tycoons, winning contracts from the country's military junta to run ports, build highways and oversee airport operations.

The U.S. Department of Treasury, dubbing Lo the "Godfather of Heroin," put both father and son on its financial sanctions list in 2008.

Lo, of Chinese descent, first got involved in the drug trade in the 1960s.

In exchange for heading a local militia set up by then-dictator Ne Win to help fight local communists in the region of Kokang, he was granted the right to traffic opium and heroin, said Lintner. With one of the best-armed militias in Myanmar, also known as Burma, he quickly became one of the region's most powerful drug kingpins.

In 1973, Thai police arrested Lo in northern Thailand and handed him over to the Burmese government. His initial sentence of death was commuted to life in prison, not for drug trafficking but for treason. This stemmed from a brief stint with the insurgent Shan State Army, Lintner said.

In 1980, Lo was released as part of a general amnesty.

Joe Conley

Actor on 'The Waltons'

Joe Conley, 85, a veteran actor best known for playing storekeeper Ike Godfrey on the long-running TV series "The Waltons," died Sunday at a care facility in Newbury Park, said his wife, Louise. He had dementia.

When the show made its debut as a weekly family drama on CBS in the fall of 1972, Conley took over the role of Godfrey from character actor Woodrow Parfrey, who appeared in the 1971 TV movie "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story." The movie and series were based on author Earl Hamner Jr.'s story about growing up in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains during the Depression.


FOR THE RECORD:
Joe Conley: A brief obituary of actor Joe Conley in the July 9 LATExtra section said that the name of his character on "The Waltons" was Ike Godfrey. It was Ike Godsey. —

Conley held the supporting role during the series' entire 10-year run, as well as in periodic TV movies that followed.

Beginning in the mid-'50s, Conley had guest appearances on other TV series, including "Bracken's World," "Mister Ed," "Richard Diamond" and "Dragnet." He also made dozens of TV commercials and had small parts in movies, including as a dinner guest in Tom Hanks' "Cast Away" (2000).

Conley was born into an acting family March 3, 1928, in Buffalo, N.Y. His mother was a vaudeville entertainer, and he began performing on radio programs while growing up in Buffalo.

After high school he moved to California to pursue an acting career. He served in the Army during the Korean War, then returned to California to resume acting. For many years he also maintained a side career selling real estate in the San Fernando Valley.

Times staff and wire reports

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