Drug dealing rises in volume via contact-free methods in 2022: customs office

SEOUL– South Korea’s customs agency said Thursday that drug smugglers in 2022 tended to trade illicit substances in greater volume utilizing contact-free methods, namely mail and postal services.

The number of drug smuggling cases involving volume that exceeded 1 kilogram came to 65 in 2022, soaring from 29 tallied a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.

The total number of drug trafficking attempts discovered by the agency, however, fell 27 percent on-year to 771 cases.

The amount of drugs and narcotic substances confiscated came to 624 kg in 2022, down 51 percent from a year earlier. The agency pointed out that the on-year decrease largely came as the office intercepted two major drug smuggling attempts estimated at 802 kg in 2021.

Excluding those two large cases, the amount actually increased 64 percent on-year in 2022, the agency explained.

Drug smuggling via air mail soared 87 percent on-year to reach 361 kg in 2022, followed by express cargo delivery services with 226 kg, up 86 percent over the period.

“Due to the restricted global travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more drug traders opted for contact-free methods, including air mail and express cargo delivery services,” the customs agency said.

Such contact-free delivery methods accounted for 85 percent of all drug trafficking in 2022, rising sharply from 53 percent tallied in 2020. In 2021, the figure came to 91 percent.

Those carried directly by travelers more than doubled to reach 36 kg.

By type, the amount of methamphetamine confiscated came to 262 kg, followed by hemp at 93 kg.

Drugs from Thailand more than doubled on-year to reach 107 kg in 2022, while those from Laos reached 99 kg, representing more than a sixfold increase last year.

The agency added that dealers are likely to continue focusing on South Korea, considering that drugs are traded at a much higher price than other countries.

For example, data from the United Nations showed that a gram of meth is sold for US$450 in South Korea on the black market, far above the $44 in the United States.

“By fully cracking down on drug smuggling attempts, we plan to recover the country’s previous reputation as a drug-free nation,” the agency said in a statement.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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