SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of narcotics offenders in South Korea rose 19.3 percent in 2016 from a year earlier, due largely to the widespread use of the Internet as a channel to more easily trade the banned substances, a report showed Monday.
The tally of drug offenders came to 14,214 at the end of 2016, compared to 11,916 recorded in the previous year, according to the latest white paper published by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.
It is the highest figure since compilation of related data began in 1990, the office said.
The amount of the confiscated narcotics reached 117 kilograms, enough for use by some 3.9 million people, sharply up by 41.8 percent from 2015. The number of those charged with smuggling also climbed 24.7 percent to 4,036.
The report attributed the ascent in registered narcotics offenders and seized drugs to a growing use of online platforms, largely social networking sites, to buy and supply the illicit substances.
It said that in a lot of the recent cases, the offenders made deals through mobile chatting apps or SNS sites.
There was also a sharp rise in the narcotics crimes committed by foreigners. A total of 957 foreign nationals from some 30 countries were busted by local law enforcement in 2016, up 49.5 percent from a year earlier.
Chinese citizens accounted for the biggest proportion, followed by Thais and Americans, with most of them in charge of the smuggling.
“There has been a growing number of smuggling cases in which the seller contacts a foreign supplier over the Internet or SNS and has the drugs delivered via international mail or express mail,” the report said.
The most popular distribution route changed from China to Southeast Asia in the cited period, with a lot of methamphetamine smuggled in from the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan, according to the report.