Final Southeast Asian drug lord arrested, returned to Korea
A Korean drug tycoon was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Sunday, the last of the big three Korean drug lords in Southeast Asia to be run to ground.
He's now back in Korea awaiting trial.
“The 47-year-old Kim (Hyung-ryul) has been smuggling drugs from Vietnam to Korea for about three years,” Korea’s National Police Agency announced on Tuesday. "Through cooperation with the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security for about three years, Kim was arrested on July 17 and sent back to Korea on July 19."
Kim is accused of smuggling drugs such as methamphetamines and synthetic marijuana into Korea, allegedly becoming a top supplier.
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) issued a Red Notice for Kim in June 2019, which started the cooperation between the Vietnamese and Korean police.
A Red Notice is issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or sentencing, and asks law enforcement agencies to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition or surrender.
Kim was wanted nationwide in Korea. When Korean police found out where Kim was living, they dispatched a team to Vietnam to work with local police.
The team planned July 17, 2022 as the D-day for Kim’s arrest.
A four-member arrest support team was created and it raided Kim’s residence in Ho Chi Minh City around 2 p.m. on July 17 and arrested him.
The police identified 20 Korean accomplices who allegedly dealt the drugs Kim smuggled into Korea.
According to the police, Kim circulated drugs worth 7 billion won ($5,334,573) in Korea since 2018.
“This is just an estimate,” said a police officer. "The exact scope of distribution will be revealed as we investigate further, but it is expected to be much larger."
The other two Korean drug lords, Park Wang-yul and Choi Jung-ok, confessed that Kim was their top supplier of methamphetamines.
Park was arrested in the Philippines in October 2020.
Along with drug crimes, Park has a history of murdering three Koreans in the Philippines in 2016.
Managing to escape from captivity twice, he continued drug dealing.
When Park’s Korean dealer, known by the name Vatican Kingdom on the Telegram messaging service, was arrested in January 2021, his cover was blown.
Choi, a North Korean female defector, was arrested in Cambodia in April 2022 and sent back to Korea for prosecution.
After fleeing North Korea in 2011, Choi became head of a large Southeast Asian drug ring. Choi smuggled drugs, mostly methamphetamine, into Korea from various Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
There were over ten domestic Wanted Notices issued for Choi.
In response to increasing drug crimes, the government is strengthening drug investigations.
BY WI MUN-HEE [email@example.com]