SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean police said Monday they have busted the largest-ever operation to smuggle drugs into the country, a scheme they say involves Taiwanese and Japanese organized crime rings and Korean dealers.
Six people were arrested in the attempted trafficking of 112 kilograms of methamphetamine, an amount that is enough to be used simultaneously by 3.7 million people, according to police. It is estimated to be worth 370 billion won (US$326.56 million).
Among those arrested were a 25-year-old Taiwanese, a 32-year-old Japanese and a 63-year-old South Korean.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said the Taiwanese obtained a screw making machine on a ship at a port in the southeastern coastal city of Busan, which departed from Bangkok on July 6 this year. Concealed inside the machine were 112 bags packed with 1 kilogram of methamphetamine each.
The customs authorities failed to detect the smuggled drug as it was concealed inside the machine and sealed up by welding. Usually, it is almost impossible for the customs authorities to detect drug smuggling attempts at a port, the Korea Customs Service said.
The customs office conducts drug inspections on only 2 percent of freight sent into South Korea and lacks the time to do more. Sniffing dogs are of no use as methamphetamine has no color or smell, according to the office.
After the smuggling, the Taiwanese, along with a Taiwanese accomplice, transported the machine, sealed up by welding, to a warehouse in the city of Hwaseong, near Seoul, that he had rented prior to the smuggling. They took the machine apart to get hold of the drugs and stored them at an apartment in Seoul that he had also rented beforehand.
The Taiwanese transported 7 kilograms on July 29, 7 kilograms on July 31 and 8 kilograms on Aug. 18 of the drug to a Japanese dealer, who has yet to be arrested. The 34-year-old Japanese later sold the 22 kilograms of methamphetamine to the South Korean for 1.1 billion won.