The Korea Herald


Leader of crime ring sentenced to 23 years for drugging, blackmail

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : July 9, 2024 - 18:48

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(Herald DB) (Herald DB)

A South Korean court sentenced a 27-year-old man who led a scam that involved spiking teens' drinks with drugs and blackmailing parents to 23 years in jail Tuesday.

The defendant surnamed Lee is believed to have been the leader of a crime ring that made drinks out of methamphetamine and milk and distributed them to middle and high school students in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul on April 3, 2023. The perpetrators falsely claimed that the drinks would help students concentrate.

Lee ordered his accomplices to then approach the parents of the 13 teens tricked into taking the drinks and blackmail them for cash.

Lee was apprehended in May of 2023 by the authorities in China, where he had been staying since October of 2022. He was extradited to South Korea in December.

"It is necessary to hand a harsh punishment since the crime is malicious in nature as (the defendant) used minors as his tools," the Seoul Central District Court said in its verdict, finding the defendant guilty of violating the Narcotics Control Act.

Article 58-7 of the Enforcement Decree of the Narcotics Control Act stipulates anyone who doses or delivers narcotics to minors for profit shall be punished by a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of the death penalty.

The court took into consideration that Lee admitted most of his crimes, showed remorse for his actions and cooperated in the investigation, along with the fact that his blackmail did not lead to actual financial damages.

The defendant claimed that he did not order the crimes and that he was asked by another 27-year-old man surnamed Gil to participate "as a favor for a friend." But the court turned down his claims, saying that Lee was the one who had Gil join his crime ring and gave the orders.

Gil, accused of making the drinks himself, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part in the crimes. Three others were also given prison terms.