Jeolla police make country’s biggest meth bust

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Jeolla police make country’s biggest meth bust

The South Jeolla police said on Wednesday that a middle-aged Korean man had been charged with producing 2.4 kilograms (5.2 pounds) of methamphetamine at his home and hiding 61.5 kilograms worth of ingredients, making it the biggest drug bust on record in Korea.

The 4.4-kilogram meth haul is believed to be enough to supply 146,000 people at once, authorities said.

Police have requested a detention warrant for the 42-year-old suspect, identified only by his surname Lee, who was said to have worked in an organized criminal gang for over two decades in Daegu.

Lee currently acts as an adviser for a criminal organization, authorities said.

From November 2014 to July, Lee allegedly produced meth with 36 ingredients, incorporating 24 types of equipment, at his house in Dalseo District, Daegu.

The goods were planned to be sold to the general public via gangs in Daegu and Busan.

Authorities did not specify whether anyone had already come into contact with the illegal substance, or how much he would have received in each deal.

Lee reportedly referenced the Internet to learn how to set up his own lab. Daegu officers said all the finished products, ingredients, equipment and a manual were confiscated during the raid.

Korean customs discovered 52 methamphetamine-trafficking cases in the first half of this year, according to recent data, compared to 11 cases reported over the same period in 2014.

The volume of confiscated methamphetamine, however, decreased by approximately 17 percent, from 9.53 kilograms to 7.93 kilograms, data released July 30, by the Korea Customs Service (KCS) indicated.

From January to June, 13.92 kilograms of drugs were seized over 155 separate incidents, while in the same period last year, 21.6 kilograms were confiscated over 176 cases.

Case numbers dropped 11.9 percent, while the weight difference represented a 35.5 percent decrease.

In explaining the reduction, local authorities pointed out that China’s anti-drug policies were enforced enough to scare away dealers.

China is considered a major base for drug trafficking in Korea, and smuggling, producing or trafficking drugs may be punishable by death.

In August 2014, two Korean men in Jilin Province were executed for drug-trafficking and trading convictions, the first death sentence for Korean citizens carried out in 10 years in China.

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

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