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Smuggled drugs hit record high in 2021 amid pandemic

Evidence of drug offenders arrested in Gyeonggi Province (National Police Agency)
Evidence of drug offenders arrested in Gyeonggi Province (National Police Agency)
Drug smuggling caught by South Korea's customs agency hit a record high last year as trafficking via non-contact delivery means shot up amid the COVID-19 pandemic, data showed Wednesday.

The Korea Customs Service said it confiscated a total of 1,272 kilograms of drugs in 2021, up 757 percent from the previous year.

Drug smuggling via international mail and cargo sharply increased as drug delivery by international travelers declined due to the pandemic, according to the customs agency.

The confiscated amount of drug smuggling via cargo and mail jumped 1,288 percent on-year to 1,258 kg last year, while the agency confiscated 12 kg of drugs that were smuggled by travelers, down 77 percent from a year ago.

By type, the amount of methamphetamine confiscated soared 849 percent on-year to 577 kg last year. In July, the customs agency seized 402.8 kg of methamphetamine in maritime cargo leaving from Mexico.

The agency confiscated 448 kg of cocaine, sharply up from 153 grams confiscated a year earlier. The amount of confiscated hemp rose 50 percent on-year to 99 kg.

Smuggling of new types of substances, including MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, also jumped with the seizure of such narcotics soaring 569 percent on-year to 143 kg.

The customs agency said international drug rings continued to smuggle methamphetamine of more than 1 kg into South Korea. More drug traffickers transported cocaine via South Korea to other destinations last year.

Young people also used international mail and cargo to smuggle a small amount of narcotics for their own consumption. The agency confiscated 385 cases of drugs less than 10 grams smuggled via international mail last year, up 179 percent from a year ago. (Yonhap)

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