중앙데일리

American in Korea sold opiates across the globe

Apr 25,2019
A 40-year-old American was detained and referred to the prosecution for selling prescription opiate painkillers on the internet.

He would complain of pain and visit various clinics, getting prescriptions for a month’s supply of drugs for each visit, according to the police. He allegedly took large doses of the drugs himself and sold what was leftover overseas. The total amount of drugs he smuggled out of the country amounted to 1.2 billion won ($1 million).

He was arrested by the police on April 11 and referred to the prosecution on April 19. His wife was referred to the prosecution without detention as an accomplice.

The sale of the prescription drugs to the American was not recorded on Korea’s Drug Utilization Review (DUR), which tracks prescriptions given to individuals, because he was a foreigner and the drugs were prescribed without insurance, according to police.

Clinics that prescribed drugs to the suspect had no way of knowing about his prescriptions, which he used to his advantage to stock up on four to five months’ worth of drugs a month, police said. In order to get more painkillers, he allegedly told clinics to prescribe pills for his wife and received drugs in her name.

The man visited four clinics in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, and four in the Bundang area of Seongnam, Gyeonggi, to obtain the drugs, according to police. They also announced plans to investigate whether there were more clinics involved.

The man visited Korea frequently after 2008 and settled in the country in 2010 with an E2 (teaching) visa to teach English. After marrying a Korean woman, he received an F6 (spouse of a Korean national) visa. He started selling narcotic painkillers prescribed to him in December 2013.

He advertised the drugs on the internet and sent them to customers in 32 countries, including the United States, Australia and Gabon. He disguised the drugs by hiding them inside cheap computer mice and between documents.

The police started investigating the case in February after hearing from the U.S. Customs Service that they seized pharmaceutical drugs hidden inside an export item. Inside the package were 72 fentanyl patches and 45 pills of oxycodone. The drugs are powerful narcotic painkillers.

“The man sold 100 oxycodone pills and five fentanyl patches at once,” said police. “We requested the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to check whether there are false or excessive prescription records.”

BY KIM JEONG-YEON [jung.myungsuk@joongang.co.kr]


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