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Prosecutors increase efforts to battle global drug trade

In an effort to combat the growing globalization of the illegal narcotics trade, the Supreme Prosecutors Office announced on Sunday its plans to strengthen joint investigations and construct an information system.

Prosecutors will increase its efforts to stop foreign drugs from entering the country by beefing up monitoring at airports and harbors, while also conducting joint investigations with all related government bodies.

Officials also plan to connect with international investigation organizations to create a database of national and international criminals.

Also included in the plans is the construction of the Asia-Pacific Information & Coordination Center for combating drug crimes.

A 2010 report on the country’s drug crimes showed a 18 percent decrease from the previous year with 9,732.

Of those, the bulk of the offenses involved methamphetamine and other psychostimulants, with 6,771 cases, followed by marijuana at 1,837 and the rest involving narcotics and other drugs.

The numbers were especially low in a period from 2003 to 2006 when prosecutors and police mounted fierce busts, which saw a sharp drop in organized drug crime, and the latest numbers show another decline

Prosecutors believe that with the increasing number of foreigners entering the country both for business and pleasure, narcotics-related crime is becoming more international and consistent.

In 2010, 858 criminals from 31 countries were prosecuted for drug offenses, a slight decrease from 2009 when 890 criminals were indicted.

More than half of the crimes were committed by Thais, followed by Sri Lankans, Americans and Chinese.

“The number of narcotics being smuggled in through international mail and parcels is growing, which are readily available and carry low risk, and the routes are diversifying from China to Africa,” Park Sung-jin, head of the narcotics division at the prosecution office.

The amount of narcotics smuggled from China dropped to 2.9 kilograms in the six months from 5 kilograms one year ago due to a government crackdown.

The Korea Customs Service confiscated 17.6 kilograms of drugs, including methamphetamine and cocaine, in the January-June period, a 3.4-fold increase from a year ago.

The narcotics seized during the six months was valued at 41 billion won ($38.8 million), quadruple the year-earlier value.

The customs office said there was a sharp increase in the amount of narcotics that was ordered online. African countries, Canada and Panama were among the new origins of the drugs.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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