Illegal drug smuggling hit record in first four months of this year

2023.05.19 10:38:01 | 2023.05.19 11:55:17

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

Smuggling drugs has become increasingly sophisticated and criminal groups in South Korea, a country in a war against the abuse of illicit drugs, have become involved.

The Korea Customs Service Commissioner TaeSik Yoon held a meeting with 27 director-level drug investigators at the country’s customs on Thursday to look into drug smuggling cases reported between January and April and discuss measures to end the illegal activity.

“Two drug-smuggling attempts on average are caught every day, with the volume reaching 1.8 kilograms,” said Yoon. “The volume is enough to be used by 60,000 people.”

According to the Korea Customs Service, the total amount of illegal drugs detected in the first four months of this year hit a record compared with the same period a year ago. For example, the Incheon International Airport seized approximately 1,700 grams of methamphetamine in March that were concealed in parcels of auto parts to be smuggled into the country.

The Korea Customs Service said that a total of 205 drug smuggling cases have been reported over the first four months of this year. The total weight of the drugs seized was a record 213 kilograms, up 32 percent from the previous year’s number. Though the cases detected fell by 18 percent on year, the average weight of drugs per case has risen by 62 percent on year.

Among other methods, international parcels were the most frequently used as a smuggling method, with 96 cases, or 47 percent of the total. Its volume reached 114 kilograms. Drug smuggling by person, like travelers, came next with 52 cases, or 25 percent. Fifty-five cases, or 27 percent, involved cargo shipping.

By drug type, methamphetamine was the drug most commonly detected in smuggling activities, which accounted for 41 percent, or 87 kilograms, of the drugs seized, followed by cannabis at 22 percent and synthetic marijuana at 8 percent.

By country, Thailand accounted for the largest portion of the volume, with 62 kilograms. U.S. came next with 50 kilograms, followed by Vietnam with 20 kilograms and China with 17 kilograms.

The Korean authority warned that smuggling attempts become creative with smugglers hiding narcotics in auto parts or candy boxes to disguise the drugs as ordinary parcels. Some cases involved travelers who tried to sneak illegal drugs on their persons or in personal belongings.

The Korea Customs Service will sign a memorandum of understanding with The Korea Post on May 26 to crack down on drug smuggling involving international mail. The authority plans to enforce stricter inspections for suspicious travelers.

By Park Dong-hwan and Han Yubin

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper &, All rights reserved]