- POSTED: 19 Dec 2013 18:46
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South Korean prosecutors have indicted a drug ring comprised of four North Korean defectors. They have been charged with smuggling methamphetamine worth about US$1.7 million into the country.
SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have indicted a drug ring comprised of four North Korean defectors. They have been charged with smuggling methamphetamine worth about US$1.7 million into the country.
The drugs were hidden in the battery compartment of a laptop.
According to prosecutors in the southern city of Ulsan, the drugs were originally from North Korea, and smuggled into Canada before making their way to South Korea.
About 600 grams of the methamphetamine -- also known as ice -- were seized and are estimated to have a street value about US$1.7 million.
This is the first time all the suspects are defectors from North Korea. The country has for a long time been accused of being a major player in the lucrative narcotics trade -- producing and trafficking illicit drugs -- as a source of hard currency.
Choi Chang Ho, a prosecutor in South Korea, said: "The distribution of methamphetamine has become common there. And if they get caught, they can get away with it by bribing authorities."
There are about 25,000 North Koreans who have defected to the South, and prosecutors are now investigating further to see if more drugs have been smuggled in the past.
Of those defectors, many said ice was often used back home as a palliative when there was no prescription medicine.
Despite the watchful eye of the North Korea's authoritarian regime, the drug is said to be easily available on the black market and smuggled through China before being distributed throughout the world.
It is difficult to know how much the North Korean government generates through illegal activities such as drug sales and arms trades, but reports said they are generating millions of dollars -- which is used for the country's nuclear and missile programs.