Smuggled drugs seized by South Korea’s customs agency hit a record high of 1,272 kilograms last year, the amount enough to be administered one dose each to an entire population. The spike in drug smuggling is considered to be attributable to prolongation of COVID-19 and overseas travel restrictions, as a result of which drug smugglers have turned to express cargo and international air mail.
The South Korean customs authority announced on Tuesday that a total of 1,054 cases of drug smuggling were caught, weighing 1,272 kilograms, the largest in size since the customs office opened. The number of drug smuggling cases increased by 51% and the amount of seized drugs up by 757% compared to the previous year.
Among the most commonly smuggled drugs include methamphetamine, which is increasingly used in the Asia-Pacific region, and cocaine, which is mainly used in North America. A total of 577 kilograms of methamphetamine and a total of 448 kilograms of cocaine were seized last year. Given that an average one-time dosage of METH is 0.03 gram and an average one-time dosage of cocaine is 0.01 gram, the recently seized amount of the two drugs is enough for 633.7 million people to administer at the same time, more than enough for the entire South Korean population (approximately 518.4 million people) to administer once.
The amount of METH seized surged by 849% compared to last year, largely attributable to the seizure of the cargo shipped from Mexico in July, which weighs 402.8 kilograms. Last year’s drug smuggling is characterized by a large-scale smuggling of METH in kilos. The customs office analyzed that an increase in methamphetamine smuggling is a global trend. As the METH production increases, the price of its distribution is on the decrease. As the price gets cheaper, smugglers appear to consume more drugs as a result.
New drugs such as phenobarbitone, GHB, black mamba, and MDMA have also become more frequently detected, recording an increase of 569% compared to the previous year. A small amount (less than 10 grams) of drug smuggling for self-consumption via international mail also increased by 179% compared to last year.