7 in alleged arms dealing ring busted

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7 in alleged arms dealing ring busted

The Seoul police announced Wednesday that it had recently apprehended a group of seven people who are allegedly connected to the illegal export of arms to a Lebanese militant group.

Two of the seven are currently detained while the rest were indicted without detention, according to officers from the International Crime Investigation Bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

The two behind bars were identified as a 41-year-old major in the Army reserves, surnamed Lee, and a 50-year-old munitions manufacturer, surnamed Roh. An Army major in active duty, a 38-year-old surnamed Yang, was among the five indicted.

The genders of the suspects were withheld. The case reportedly dates back to January 2011 when Lee returned from an eight-month deployment in Lebanon. The suspect is then believed to have teamed up with a younger sibling and Yang to establish a military supplies trading company.

Through that company, which was established in July that year, the three are alleged to have smuggled approximately 3,000 rifle cartridges to a Lebanon-based military supplies importer, stashing away some 360 million won ($327,974) in total. Police officers investigating the case said the Lebanese culprit was Lee’s personal acquaintance, whom Lee met while deployed.

A shipping broker surnamed Park, 49, and a customs agent surnamed Choi, 53, are also suspected to have been involved in the plot, having allegedly helped the exporters falsely report their goods to local authorities after their shipment was blocked.

The rifle cartridges were allegedly disguised as automobile oil filters and brake pads, objects with similar attributes.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KIM SUN-MI [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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