North Korean defectors arrested on drug use, trafficking charges

Police in South Korea confiscated a stockpile of methamphetamines worth more than $250,000 and have detained five suspects, including four North Korean defectors.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Aug. 17, 2015 at 12:36 PM
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SEOUL, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- South Korea police arrested a group of North Korean defectors accused of trafficking in illicit drugs from China and confiscated a stockpile of methamphetamines sufficient for 3,000 drug users.

Police in the Seoul suburb of Ilsan said Monday they apprehended five suspects, including one Chinese national, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The defectors, identified only by their surnames, included a 47-year-old man, Yun, 36-year-old Min, his live-in girlfriend, a 25-year-old woman with the surname Kim, and her 36-year-old live-in boyfriend Hwang.

A Chinese national with the surname Do was arrested separately.

Police said they began investigating when Kim called police to report an incident of domestic violence, South Korean outlet CBS No Cut News reported.

Police found a disposable syringe, 91 grams of methamphetamines, 5 grams of marijuana and about $4,000 in proceeds from illicit drug sales at their home, and launched an investigation based on the evidence – which led them to the other suspects, including Yun, who is accused of being the chief contact for drug deals from China into South Korea.

Yun received 100-gram shipments of methamphetamines, or crystal meth in March and July and distributed them to the other defectors, police said. His source was a 37-year-old Chinese national with the surname Kang, who sent the shipments by post and disguised the drugs as traditional medicine, according to police.

Yun sold half a gram at the rate of $253.67 to the other four suspects, and his confiscated stash of drugs is estimated to be worth $253,670, police said

South Korea police said methamphetamine is used in North Korea to fight off the pangs of hunger during periods of food shortage.

It is not clear whether the North Korean government is directly involved in drug production, but North Korean officials have in the past been apprehended for drug sales.

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