USFK soldiers busted for dealing faux marijuanaFour deserted soldiers of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) were arrested by Korean police for manufacturing and selling drugs.
The International Crime Investigation Team under the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency said on Monday they have booked the four AWOL soldiers, including a 23-year-old private, without detention for manufacturing and selling “spice,” or synthetic marijuana, in cooperation with the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the USFK.
The police arrested a 27-year-old Filipino woman living with the 23-year-old suspect for the same charge and also booked 12 Korean and foreign civilians including a 34-year-old man surnamed Kim and 13 USFK soldiers for purchasing and smoking spice.
The police handed over the soldiers to the USFK.
The Uijeongbu Prosecutors’ Office later summoned the suspects for interrogation.
Under the Status of Forces Agreement (better known as SOFA) that was revised in May, Korean investigative agencies are now able to conduct an initial investigation when U.S. soldiers are caught in the act.
Previously, Korean police were only able to conduct an initial investigation of homicide or rape.
The suspects deserted in March and have been living around Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, Gyeonggi.
They smuggled synthesized cannabis known as “JWH” into the country after disguising it as instant coffee powder through the international mail and used it to manufacture spice.
The 23-year-old soldier also fabricated prescriptions for Oxycontin, a narcotic pain reliever.
Allegedly, the suspects manufactured the spice by combining the JWH, catnip, acetone and mouthwash and sold it at a price of $30 to $50 per gram (per 0.04 ounce) to Korean and foreign residents as well as other USFK soldiers they met at clubs in Hongdae and Itaewon. The police said the deserted soldiers earned about 20 million won ($18,500) by selling the drug.
The police said all the Koreans who were caught, including hagwon, or private academy, teachers and entertainment agency officials, who purchased the drugs have spent time abroad.
The police also obtained acetone and an electronic scale, as well as one kilogram of the drug worth 60 million won, as evidence from the deserted soldiers’ base.
By Kwon Sang-soo, Jeon Ick-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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