Is Silver Lotus Triad a Real Criminal Organization in Myanmar?

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

The fourth season of Prime Video’s ‘Jack Ryan’ takes the audience back into the thrilling world of the CIA analyst tasked with saving his country from the forces that threaten to destroy it. In the past seasons, Ryan traveled from Colombia to Russia to neutralize said threats and help maintain peace in the world. This time, however, the problem is much closer to home, and the enemies are more powerful than before.

The primary antagonist this season is a man named Chao Fah. He is the leader of a Burmese crime organization called the Silver Lotus Triad. Because the show is known to draw upon real-life events and organizations to create its plot line, you might wonder if Solver Lotus Triad is based on a real criminal organization in Myanmar. Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD

Is Silver Lotus Triad a Real Criminal Organization?

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

‘Jack Ryan’ is inspired by the books written by Tom Clancy, which feature the titular character as a CIA analyst. The show has picked out supporting characters like Cathy Mueller, James Greer, and Mike November from the books as well. However, when it comes to creating the antagonists, the show’s writers take a more contemporary approach. Instead of digging into Clancy’s books to find a villain, they look towards the real world and find relevant things to incorporate into the show.

In the fourth season, the CIA faces the problem of the collaboration between the Silver Lotus Triad and the Mexican cartels. This plot point is picked from real-life, where East Asian triads are known to join hands with South American cartels. An example of such a case is the collaboration between Chinese and Mexican criminal organizations. According to Forbes, “Chinese groups are also becoming more involved in drug trafficking and money laundering in Mexico.”

Besides money laundering, the Chinese organizations have become “the dominant suppliers of scheduled and non-scheduled, unregulated precursor chemicals for the production of methamphetamine, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” which the Mexican cartels ship across the border to sell in North America. This collaboration has made their job a lot easier because now, they don’t have to launder money through the US but have established channels in China that help them elude the authorities while avoiding the danger they previously faced.

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

In ‘Jack Ryan,’ we see a similar arrangement between the Triad and the cartels. However, the plot is thickened by throwing the CIA into the mess. Ryan discovers that people at the topmost level of the agency are also involved in this operation, which leads him to question everything he believed about it. Moreover, he deduces that the collaboration between the Triad and the cartel isn’t simply about drug trafficking. Their plans are much more sinister. He warns his superiors that if the criminals can get drugs across the border with relative ease, they will be able to move other things, which could prove much more dangerous to the country.

Over the years, several intelligence organizations have recognized the correlation between drugs and terrorism as an increasing threat that needs to be curbed before it gets out of hand. According to the FBI, the world of criminals has become “more integrated with activities that are significantly less discrete.” Calling terrorism and crime “inextricably linked,” the agency believes “Terrorist acts, crime, and foreign intelligence activities are no longer distinct activities, but rather profound fluid enterprises that through their very existence have a reverberating impact on our national security.”

With all this in mind, we can say that Silver Lotus Triad is a fictional criminal organization and isn’t inspired by any specific real-life counterpart. However, the show’s creators have created it in such a way that it effectively imagines the operations and structure of real-life criminal organizations. So, even if it is made up, the writers have informed it with the brute reality of our world and the dangers that surround us.

Read More: Is Jack Ryan Season 4 Based on a True Story?