Korean-American gangsters arrested

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Korean-American gangsters arrested

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Wednesday arrested two Korean-American former Los Angeles gang members, R and Lee, for taking and selling drugs in Korea while working as English teachers at private education institutes in separate cases.

One of the men is wanted for murder in the United States and is expected to be extradited to face those charges. Both had allegedly created false college diplomas through the Internet in order to obtain work in the hagwon.

R, 26, was reportedly a member of a Korean-American gang in Los Angeles when he got into a fight on July 14, 2006, at a cafe in the city’s Koreatown, stabbing to death a man identified as B, 27. Four days later, R fled to Korea.

After Interpol located R in Korea, U.S. investigators asked the Korean government to extradite him. However, because R has dual citizenship, he had been able to change his name in a Korean court and couldn’t be traced.

During his time on the run, R worked as an English teacher at a hagwon in Suwon, Gyeonggi, for two months. While there he allegedly took methamphetamine and marijuana.

“It is crucial for private institutes to go through a thorough profile and certificate check when employing teachers,” Seoul police pointed out.

Seoul police said yesterday that R was arrested on the drug charges here, but they plan to extradite him to the United States if the Korean courts agree. They are also searching for Yu, 31, who fled after being interrogated for allegedly taking drugs with R.

Meanwhile Lee, 26, was deported from the United States in 2006 after being charged with attempted murder and credit card fraud. Like R, Lee made himself a false university diploma and worked as an English teacher at a famous hagwon in southern Seoul.

According to police, Lee smuggled around 64 grams of methamphetamine worth around 19.2 million won (nearly $17,000) and 34.5 grams of marijuana worth around 3.4 million won into Korea. Five others, including an American teacher, were indicted without detention for buying drugs from Lee.

By Park Sung-woo [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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