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Scandal-spurred drug busts nab 523 suspects

Mar 26,2019
Massive drug busts around the country over the past month yielded 523 arrests, the National Police Agency said Monday.

In the aftermath of a sex, drugs, and police protection scandal involving K-pop megastar Seungri and his nightclub Burning Sun, the police faced criticism that they have been indifferent toward Korea’s growing drug trade.

The police began their crackdown on Feb. 25, and have rounded up 523 suspects so far, the National Police Agency said. Of them, 216 have been taken into police custody.

According to the police, 511 people were apprehended on charges of using or selling drugs, while 12 were arrested for sex crimes involving drugs.

The police said the number of suspects on drug use or sale charges is about 30 percent higher than the figure from the same period last year. The number of detained suspects in this year’s crackdowns, 211, increased by 65 percent over the same period last year.

According to the police, 82 percent of the suspects, or 421, were suspected of the improper use or the sale of controlled substances that are legal under some circumstances, such as gamma hydroxybutyric acid, commonly abbreviated as GHB. Another 69 were suspected users or dealers of marijuana and 21 were alleged users or dealers of such narcotics as cocaine.

Of those arrested, 391 were suspected users, while 115 were alleged to be dealers. Five were arrested on charges of producing or smuggling drugs.

The police said 25 percent of the cases involved trade on the internet, while 7 percent involved nightclubs and bars.

According to the police, 28 of the suspects were rounded up at nightclubs in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. Eleven of them were arrested on charges of drug sales and use at Burning Sun, while 13 were suspected users and dealers at other clubs, including Arena. The other four suspects in the nightclub raids were arrested on charges of trading the drugs using the internet.

In addition to the primary drug cases, the police also expanded its crackdown into suspected sex crimes involving drugs. Twelve suspects were arrested on charges of committing sex crimes involving drugs, and six of them were workers at Burning Sun. They secretly filmed sex acts by men and women at the restrooms of the nightclub’s VIP rooms and spread them, the police said.

BY SOHN KOOK-HEE, SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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