SEOUL: The number of cases of foreigners illicit drugs smuggling into South Korea jumped 34 percent from a year ago with language instructors taking up the largest portion, customs data showed here the other day
The Incheon Airport Customs said it detected 284 instances of drug smuggling in the first 11 months of the year, with a total of 30 kilograms of narcotics confiscated.
Of the total, 63 cases were committed by foreign nationals, up 34 percent from the same period last year.
Between 2013 and November 2014, 116 foreigners were caught smuggling drugs into South Korea.
Of the foreign drug smugglers arrested in the January-November period of this year, English teachers were the largest at 23, followed by manual laborers at 12 and exchange students at 7. The rest were businessmen, soldiers, chefs and artists, the customs agency said.
By nationality, Americans took up the largest number at 49. China and Thailand were next with 14 and 10. Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and others comprised the rest.
Americans typically smuggled in marijuana by mail, thanks to the drug being legalized in some U.S. states, the agency said.
Chinese nationals commonly hid methamphetamine, or meth, in their bags or swallowed it, while their Thai counterparts mailed yaba, a mixture of meth and caffeine known as the “madness drug,” to their friends in South Korea.
By type of drug, marijuana was the most popular with 41 instances, followed by meth with 17 and alkyl nitrites, or poppers, with 11.
The agency vowed to toughen its monitoring of illegal drug trafficking by analyzing the common traits of smugglers.
“We are planning on creating a special division dedicated to investigating international mail for illegal drugs and more strictly checking carry-on luggage of foreign nationals,” the agency said.