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South Korean Police Arrest 70 in Raid on ‘Crypto-powered Drug Dealers’

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South Korean police continue to wage war on crypto-powered drug crime, with officers in Seoul arresting 70 people.

Per Seoul Kyungjae, the group used Telegram chat rooms to advertise their services to drug buyers. They then allegedly sold narcotics for tokens including Bitcoin (BTC).

South Korean Police: Dead Drop Alerted Officers to Gang’s Operations

Officers said that a “group of 70 people” had “smuggled and distributed various drugs, including methamphetamine (crystal meth), ketamine, and synthetic marijuana.”

Police said the group had used “raw materials” sourced from Vietnam and operated a makeshift laboratory in South Korea. Here, police said, they “manufactured and stored” the finished narcotics.

Officers at the Gangdong Police Station in the east of Seoul announced on June 9 that they had charged the group with violating the Narcotics Control Act. Police said that 41 of the group were remanded in custody.

A spokesperson said the group began its operations in September 2023, and continued selling drugs until June 20 of this year.

Gangdong Police Station in Seoul, South Korea.
Gangdong Police Station in Seoul, South Korea. (Source: Vitzro2011 [CC BY-SA 3.0])

Police said the group raised over $4.3 million in profits from selling drugs to crypto-paying buyers.

And the spokesperson explained that a tip-off from a member of the public helped police launch the inquiry that resulted in their raids.

A citizen reported that they had seen “a young man” behaving in a “suspicious manner” in the flower bed of an apartment complex.

Officers responded by searching the area, where they eventually “discovered a white powder in a balloon.”

Narcotics confiscated by the police in their raids.
Narcotics confiscated by the police in their raids. (Source: Seoul Gangdong Police Station)

Police Make 40kg Drug Bust

Police then used CCTV footage from the area to track the individual down. They arrested them at an address in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, “four days later.”

They then confiscated the suspect’s cell phone, which they used to trace details of a “non-face-to-face transaction.” This transaction appears to have been crypto-based.

Police then used this information to arrest a 23-year-old suspected ringleader, as well as a Telegram open chat operator (aged 21).

Officers said they found “approximately 2,000” of the group’s “drug hiding places.” This led them to confiscate a total of 40kg worth of narcotics.

The haul also included cannabis resin and other forms of marijuana, including liquid marijuana. It also included MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, and phencyclidine (angel dust).

Officers added that they had also confiscated over $7,200 worth of Bitcoin and “proceeds.”

Many Gang Members Remain at Large – Police

One of the group’s hideouts allegedly included a hole “in the ground by a river” in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province.

Police said they found liquid drugs hidden in shampoo bottles at several locations.

Several members of the alleged drug crime ring remain at large, including a second suspected “ringleader.”

Officers think this individual is currently in the Philippines. They say they are currently in the process of canceling their passport. Police say they are hoping Interpol will issue a red notice for this “ringleader.”

Another suspected “operator” of a Telegram drug sales channel also remains at large in South Korea, police said.

S. Korea, Thailand seize illegal drugs enough for over 2 mln people https://t.co/x6qF1C5HlE

— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) July 18, 2023

The spokesperson said that officers are also hunting for several suspected smugglers transporters and drug buyers.

Officers concluded by saying they had dealt “a blow to the drug distribution market” and had “blocked the distribution of large quantities of drugs” in South Korea.

Telegram a ‘Crypto-powered Narcotics Department Store’ as ‘Drug Pollution’ Spikes

South Korean media outlets this year have bemoaned a massive spike in “drug pollution,” with crypto-powered narcotics deaddrops taking place all over the nation.

They claim that citizens are now accidentally finding bags of drugs hidden in all sorts of urban areas, ranging from children’s playgrounds to neighbors’ letterboxes.

Media outlets have also claimed that Korean-language Telegram channels have become a “crypto-powered narcotics department store” for teens and twentysomethings.

A cursory Cryptonews.com search for common South Korean narcotics argot on Telegram and X (Twitter) returned hundreds of results.

16 indicted for smuggling illicit drugs from Cambodia to Koreahttps://t.co/UqPyJYqXWK

— The Korea Times (@koreatimescokr) July 2, 2024

Most directed users to Telegram open chat rooms, where it appeared drug dealers were offering “nationwide delivery” of the aforementioned narcotics.

Cryptonews.com also saw what appeared to be crypto wallet addresses, indicating that these “dealers” preferred payments in Bitcoin and other cryptoassets.

The post South Korean Police Arrest 70 in Raid on ‘Crypto-powered Drug Dealers’ appeared first on Cryptonews.

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