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Cablegate: 2007-2008 Rok and Dprk International Narcotics

VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #3357/01 3250433
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210433Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7404
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 3422
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 8572
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3554

UNCLAS SEOUL 003357

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/K AND INL (JOHN LYLE)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KS KN
SUBJECT: 2007-2008 ROK AND DPRK INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS
CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT (INCSR)

REF: SECSTATE 136782

1. (U) Per reftel, Embassy Seoul's submission for the
Republic of Korea (ROK) portion of the 2007-2008
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report is provided
at para 2. Input for the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea (DPRK) portion of the INCSR is provided at para 3 with
the understanding that information on the DPRK's
narcotics-related activities is very limited.

2. (SBU) 2007-2008 INCSR input for the ROK:

I. Summary

Narcotics production or abuse is not a major problem in the
Republic of Korea (ROK). However, reports continue to
indicate that an undetermined quantity of narcotics is
smuggled through South Korea en route to the United States
and other countries. South Korea has become a transshipment
location for drug traffickers due to the country's reputation
for not having a drug abuse problem. This combined with the
fact that the South Korean port of Pusan is one of the
region's largest ports makes South Korea an attractive
location for illegal shipments coming from countries which
are more likely to attract a contraband inspection upon
arrival. The ROK is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Drugs available in the ROK include methamphetamine, heroin,
cocaine, marijuana, and club drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy.
Methamphetamine continues to be the most widely abused drug,
while marijuana remains popular as well. Heroin and cocaine
are only sporadically seen in the ROK. Club drugs such as
Ecstasy and LSD continue to be popular among college
students. In early 2007, ROK authorities discovered a mobile
clandestine lab in South Korea that two individuals had been
using to produce small amounts of methamphetamine from
legally-obtained cold medicines. In response, the South
Korean government implemented stricter controls on the
purchase of over-the-counter medicines containing ephedrine
and psuedoephedrine, requiring customer registration for
quantities greater than 720 mg (a three-day standard dose).

III. Country Actions Against Drugs 2007

Policy Initiatives. In 2007, the Korean Food and Drug
Administration (KFDA) continued to implement stronger
precursor chemical controls under amended legislation
approved in 2005. The KFDA continued its efforts to educate
companies and train its regulatory investigators on the
enhanced regulations and procedures for monitoring the
precursor chemical program. The KFDA also implemented in
2007 new regulatory oversight procedures to track and address
diversion of narcotics and psychotropic substances from
medical facilities and emerging patterns of abuse in South
Korea of additional substances, including gamma butyrolactone
(GBL), psychotropic-containing appetite suppressants, and the
veterinary anesthesia ketamine.

Law Enforcement Efforts. In the first nine months of 2007,
South Korean authorities arrested 878 persons for narcotics
use, 6,041 persons for psychotropic substance use, and 591
persons for marijuana use. ROK authorities seized 18 kg of
methamphetamine. Ecstasy seizures increased to 18,151
tablets from 319, approaching previous levels before 2004
(20,385 tablets). South Korean authorities seized 19.6 kg of
marijuana. (NOTE: All figures provided are from the first
nine months of the year. Total figures for 2007 are not
available.) South Koreans generally do not use heroin; and
cocaine is used only sporadically, with no indication of its
use increasing.

Corruption. There were no reports of corruption involving
narcotics law enforcement in the ROK in 2007. As a matter of
government policy, the ROK does not encourage or facilitate
illicit production or distribution of narcotic or
psychotropic or other controlled substances, or the
laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

Agreements and Treaties. South Korea has extradition
treaties with 23 countries and mutual legal assistance
treaties in force with 18 countries, including the United
States. South Korea is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic
Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by
its 1972 Protocol. South Korea has signed, but has not yet

ratified, the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime
and the UN Convention against Corruption. Korean authorities
exchange information with international counter narcotics
agencies such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) and the International Criminal Police Organization
(INTERPOL), and have placed Korean National Police and/or
Korea Customs Service attachs in Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong,
China, and the United States.

Cultivation/Production. Legal marijuana and hemp growth is
licensed by local Health Departments. The hemp is used to
produce fiber for traditional hand-made ceremonial funeral
clothing. Every year, each District Prosecutor's Office, in
conjunction with local governments, conducts surveillance
into suspected illicit marijuana growing areas during
planting or harvesting time periods to limit possible illicit
diversion. In the first six months of 2007, local
authorities seized 274 marijuana plants, down significantly
from 3,783 in the first nine months of 2006. Opium poppy
production is illegal in South Korea, although poppy
continues to be grown in Kyonggi Province where farmers have
traditionally used the harvested plants as a folk medicine to
treat sick pigs and cows. Opium is not normally processed
from these plants for human consumption. Korean authorities
continue surveillance of opium poppy-growing areas and seized
13,927 poppy plants in the first six months of 2007.

Drug Flow/Transit. Few narcotic drugs originate in South
Korea. The exportation of narcotic substances is illegal
under South Korean law, and none are known to be exported.
However, the ROK does produce and export the precursor
chemicals acetone, toluene, and sulfuric acid. Transshipment
through South Korea's ports remains a serious problem. ROK
authorities recognize South Korea's vulnerability as a
transshipment nexus and have undertaken greater efforts to
educate shipping companies of the risk. ROK authorities,
ability to directly intercept the suspected transshipment of
narcotics and precursor chemicals has been limited by the
fact that the vast majority of the shipping containers never
enter ROK territory. Nonetheless, the ROK continued its
international cooperation efforts to monitor and investigate
transshipment cases. In the previous year, ROK authorities
and the Seoul DEA Country Office completed a modified
controlled delivery of crystal methamphetamine originally
intended for transshipment through South Korea from China to
Guam, resulting in the dismantling of an international
crystal methamphetamine organization in the U.S. and South
Korea. Redoubled efforts by the Korean Customs Service (KCS)
have resulted in increased seizures of methamphetamine and
marijuana (12.4 kg and 7.7 kg respectively in the first 6
months of 2007) transported by arriving passengers and
through postal services at South Korea's ports of entry.
Most methamphetamine smuggled into South Korea comes from
China. A majority of the LSD and Ecstasy used in South Korea
has been identified as coming from North America or Europe.
People living in metropolitan areas are known to use
marijuana originating in South Africa and Nigeria, whereas
those living in rural areas appear to obtain their marijuana
from locally produced crops. ROK authorities also report
increased instances of marijuana use among the foreign
population in South Korea in recent years, a trend that is
most likely the result of increased law enforcement efforts
targeting this segment of the population.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives and Programs. The U.S. Embassy's Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) Seoul Country Office and
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials work
closely with ROK narcotics law enforcement authorities, and
the DEA considers this working relationship to be excellent.

Bilateral Cooperation. The DEA Seoul Country Office has
focused its 2007 efforts on international drug interdiction,
seizures of funds and assets related to illicit narcotics
trafficking, and the diversion of precursor chemicals in
South Korea and in the Far East region. In 2007, the DEA
Seoul Country Office organized, coordinated, and hosted a
one-week training seminar on International Asset Forfeiture
and Money Laundering Investigations. This training was
co-hosted by the Korean Supreme Prosecutors Office (KSPO)
with 50 prosecutors, investigators, and analysts from the
Korea Financial Intelligence Unit, KSPO, KCS, Korean National
Intelligence Service (KNIS), and the Korean National Police
Agency (KNPA) in attendance. The DEA Seoul Country Office
continues to share intelligence regarding the importation of
precursor chemicals into South Korea from the United States

and other Asian countries with the KFDA, KCS, KSPO, and KNIS.
DEA also works closely with the KSPO and KCS in their
activities to monitor airport and drug transshipment methods
and trends, including the use of international mail by drug
traffickers.

The Road Ahead. ROK authorities have expressed concern that
the popularity of South Korea as a transshipment nexus may
lead to greater volume of drugs entering Korean markets.
Korean authorities fear increased accessibility and lower
prices could stimulate domestic drug use in the future.
South Korean authorities also indicate a growing concern
about the importation of narcotics, psychotropic drugs, and
illegal medicines purchased via the internet, predominately
from web sites maintained in the United States. In the first
nine months of 2007, South Korean authorities intercepted 341
internet-based drug purchases. In response, Korean
authorities established Memorandum of Understanding with a
number of Korean internet portal sites to allow the KNPA to
track and intercept such purchases. The South Korean
government is currently seeking further international
cooperation to better navigate the legal complexities
surrounding the prosecution of transnational cyber crimes.
The DEA Seoul Country Office will continue its extensive
training, mentoring, and operational cooperation with ROK
authorities.

3. (SBU) 2007-2008 INCSR input for the DPRK:

I. Summary

For decades, North Koreans have been arrested for trafficking
in narcotics and engaging in other criminal behavior and
illicit activity, including passing counterfeit U.S. currency
and trading in copyrighted products. There were no confirmed
instances of drug trafficking involving North Korea or its
nationals during 2007. Anecdotal evidence suggests that
trafficking and drug abuse in the DPRK and along its border
with China continues. There also continued to be press,
industry and law enforcement reporting of DPRK links to
counterfeit cigarette trafficking and counterfeit U.S.
currency. The Department is of the view that it is likely,
but not certain, that the North Korean government has
sponsored criminal activities in the past, including
narcotics production and trafficking, but notes that there is
no evidence for several years that it continues to traffic in
narcotics. The DPRK is not a party to the 1988 UN Drug
Convention.

II. Status of Country

During 2007, there were numerous reports in the Japanese
media of drug trafficking along the DPRK/Chinese border.
According to these reports, Japanese criminal figures were
traveling to the DPRK-PRC border area to purchase
methamphetamine for smuggling back to Japan. The Department
is unable to confirm the accuracy of these reports, and if
true, the reports seem to involve small-scale trafficking by
individuals, not large-scale organized trafficking managed by
the state. There are indications that drug use in the DPRK
may be increasing. In March 2006, the DPRK published a decree
which warns citizens, state factories and groups in the DPRK
to "not sell, buy, or use drugs illegally." According to the
decree, "Organizations, factories and groups should not
illegally produce or export drugs." Punishment is severe, up
to death, and the family members and shop mates of offenders
face collective responsibility and punishment with the
perpetrator. The DPRK also has an existing antinarcotics
law. The appearance of this new decree, its draconian
penalties, and the fact that it is signed by the DPRK's
National Security Council suggest that drug use and
trafficking within the DPRK itself has come to the attention
of authorities, and is viewed as a problem requiring a
serious response.

The "Pong-Su" incident in Australia in April 2003 renewed
worldwide attention to the possibility of DPRK
state-sponsorship of drug trafficking. The "Pong-Su", a
sea-going cargo vessel owned by a North Korean state
enterprise, was seized after delivering a large quantity of
pure heroin to accomplices on shore. The trial of the
"Pong-Su" captain and other senior officers, including a DPRK
Korean Workers' Party Political Secretary, concluded in March
2006 with the captain and the others found not guilty by an
Australian jury. Four other defendants associated with the
incident pled guilty, and are serving long prison sentences
in Australia. These defendants included three individuals

who were apprehended in possession of heroin brought to
Australia aboard the "Pong-Su", and another individual who
came to Australia aboard the "Pong-Su", and was apprehended
on the same beach where some of the heroin was found. The
"Pong-Su" itself was destroyed by Australian military
aircraft, as property forfeited to Australia because of its
involvement in narcotics trafficking.

In May 2006, Japanese prosecutors charged Woo Sii Yun, an
ethnic Korean and long-term resident of Japan, and Katsuhiko
Miyata, reputedly a Japanese gang member, with involvement in
several 2002 methamphetamine drug smuggling incidents. The
2002 smuggling incidents involved several instances of DPRK
vessels leaving hundreds of kg of methamphetamine drugs to
float offshore for pick-up by criminals in Japan. The police
were led to Yun by the discovery of his phone number stored
in the memory of a cell phone found aboard a DPRK patrol boat
that sunk after a gun battle with the Japanese Coast Guard in
late 2001. Alerted to Yun's possible involvement in
narcotics trafficking with DPRK accomplices, Japanese police
investigated his financial records and found several large
payments from criminal elements in Japan. Japanese officials
suspect these payments were for drugs from North Korea.
Japanese authorities also suspect the sunken DPRK patrol boat
of involvement in earlier instances of methamphetamine
trafficking to Japan. The charges against Yun connect the
DPRK more closely to methamphetamine smuggling to Japan, as
key lead information -- Yun's phone number -- was found
aboard a North Korean patrol vessel.

Department has no evidence to support a finding that drug
trafficking has stopped. It is also certainly possible that
DPRK entities previously involved in narcotics trafficking
recently have adopted a lower profile or better operational
security.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

DPRK officials have ascribed past instances of misconduct by
North Korean officials to the individuals involved, and
stated that these individuals would be punished in the DPRK
for their crimes. A 2004 edition of the North Korean Book of
Law contains the DPRK's Narcotics Control Law, and the DPRK
government in 2007 re-affirmed its intent to punish drug
traffickers severely, including with the death penalty, by
issuing a new special decree in March 2006, signed by the
DPRK's National Security Council. There is no information
available to the Department concerning enforcement of these
laws or other legal actions taken against North Korean
officials and citizens involved in drug trafficking in DPRK,
or upon the return of North Korea citizens to the DPRK.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

The United States has made it clear to the DPRK that it has
concerns about the DPRK's involvement in a range of criminal
and illicit activities, including narcotics trafficking, and
that these activities must stop. The United States
thoroughly investigates all allegations of criminal behavior
impacting the United States by DPRK citizens and entities,
prosecutes cases under U.S. jurisdiction to the fullest
extent of the law, and urges other countries to do the same.
VERSHBOW

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