The Korea Herald


No. of drug-related offenders surges to record-high 12,700 this year

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : Oct. 6, 2023 - 12:46

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The number of apprehended drug-related offenders surged to a historical high of 12,700 this year, driven by crimes among teenagers and those over 60, police statistics showed Friday.

According to National Police Agency data on drug-related crimes, a total of 12,700 drug-related offenders were apprehended as of August this year.

Although this figure was only compiled from January to August this year, it exceeds the number of apprehended drug-related offenders, 12,387, counted for all of last year.

The figure has surged for several years. The number of apprehended drug-related offenders stood at the 5,000 range in 2013, rose to over 8,000 in 2016 and stayed between 10,000 and 12,000 in 2019, 2021 and 2022, according to the data,

Of those arrested for drug-related offenses this year, 659 were those in their teens, a record compared to the same figure in 2022: 294.

The police attributed the sharp increase in drug-related offenses among teens to the fact that drugs can be sold and bought online on the dark web and social media.

Also, as the appetite suppressant Phentermine -- which is legal with prescription here -- became popular among teenagers, the number of minors purchasing and then reselling the drug has increased significantly.

The number of individuals arrested for drug-related offenses who are in their 60s or older, meanwhile, reached 3,046, marking an upsurge of 66.5 percent from last year.

As the police strengthened its crackdown on growing cannabis and poppies this year, a large number of seniors who raised these plants without permission were caught, according to the police.

“We need to mobilize all our investigation efforts to root out drug distribution and sales organizations and improve the drug management system in more detail by age group,” ruling People Power Party Rep. Jang Dong-hyeok, a member of the National Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee, said.