South Korea’s crypto-powered drug trading epidemic is seeing the country become “polluted” with dead-dropped narcotics, a new report has claimed.
Per Ilyo Shinmun, a 59-year-old man who was arrested for drug offenses told police that he had not bought the narcotics he was caught taking.
Instead, the man claimed that he found the drugs – methamphetamine and cannabis – hidden on a hill in Gangwon Province.
Police officers have yet to authenticate the veracity or otherwise of his claim. But, the media outlet noted, the claims are not implausible.
This is especially true when considering the recent sharp uptick in crypto-related drug criminals who use public spaces to dead drop narcotics.
South Korea Wages ‘War’ on Crypto-powered Drug Crimewave
President Yoon Seok-yeol has claimed that the country is now at war with crypto-powered drug traders.
Using Telegram as a communication platform and cryptoassets as a payment tool, teenagers as young as 14 are buying and selling narcotics online.
Dealers offer “delivery” in the neighborhood of the buyer’s choosing. Buyers then transfer crypto to the dealers’ wallets.
And a few hours later, police say, dealers contact buyers to explain where their drugs are hidden.
Typically, the report’s authors explained, dealers choose public areas such as apartment complexes.
And they often choose to leave drugs in mailboxes, electricity, water, and gas meters, or drainpipes.
Other popular spots include “hospital restrooms, public parking lots, under store signboards, basement window frames, electrical wiring, and behind doorknobs in public spaces.”
A water meter outside a South Korean building. (Source: Jang Sang-mi [CC BY 2.0])
Police Concerned as Crypto-powered Drug Epidemic Intensifies
The media outlet gave the example of a recent case in Daejeon’s Eastern District. Here, a resident called the police when they spotted “a stranger searching several mailboxes” in their apartment.
Officers arrived at the scene and discovered that the person in question was a drug buyer, and later found “30 doses of drugs wrapped in black tape inside one of the mailboxes.”
A bank of South Korean apartment complex mailboxes. (Source: MBN/YouTube/Screenshot)
In another case reported on January 12, a citizen in Seoul came to a police station in the Jungnang District to explain that they had found what looked like a lost “coin purse.”
After opening the wallet, the citizen said they had found a bag with a “strange powder inside.”
Officers recognized that the powder was methamphetamine. They used CCTV footage to identify the wallet’s owner, and found this individual with “bags containing more” of the substance in their pockets.
The report’s author warned:
“Nowadays, we live in a world where you can even find drugs in a wallet you find at the side of the road. If you just […] pick it up and then leave it on the side of the road because something doesn’t feel right, you could find yourself the subject of a drug-related investigation.”
Police officers have also complained that drug dealers are using “flower beds outside buildings, gas meter boxes, outdoor air conditioning units, and electric poles” as hiding spots.
Officers added that “poorly maintained buildings” used to be “frequent trading spots.” But they conceded that “now, almost all everyday spaces are a drug distribution route.”
Investigators claimed that in some instances, drugs had been hidden “on the same street as major courthouses” or “outside elementary schools.”
Crypto-powered Drug Dealers ‘Infiltrate the Military’
Armed forces spokespeople added that an increasing number of military personnel have been caught buying and selling drugs using crypto.
In some instances, dealers snuck into army bases and other military facilities to leave bags of drugs for serving conscripts.
South Korean conscripts during a military training exercise. (Source: Republic of Korea Armed Forces [CC BY-SA 2.0])The Ministry of Defence’s Military Manpower Administration has responded by announcing plans to conduct drug tests on conscripts during the screening process.
Courts have responded with increasingly heavy sentences. Earlier this month a convicted crypto-powered drug dealer was jailed for seven years in Busan. An accomplice received a 2.5-year jail term.
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