In recent news, South Korean police is expanding its enforcement actions against the increasing crypto powered drug trafficking. Reportedly, the police is making several arrests related to the increasing trafficking.
According to local media reports, South Korean police have arrested over 312 individuals in a wide-sweeping narcotics bust. Reportedly, the arrests were carried out by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Drug Crime Investigation.
The police revealed that suspects have been charged with violating Korea’s Narcotics Control Act. The police added that the suspects were thought to have bought or sold drugs using dark web portals. To facilitate communication, these criminals made use of “non-domestic” chat apps like Telegram, and conducted trades via crypto assets such as Bitcoin (BTC).
Additionally, the police said that the group contained at least six alleged “large-scale” drug dealers. The suspected dealers are thought to have smuggled drugs into the country from overseas or bought from South Korean smugglers. Reportedly, the suspected dealers had been active from December 2020 to March 2023.
Among the arrested individuals, there is a 20-year old who also ran an “internet shopping mall.” The “internet shopping mall” operator, police think, appears to have been a key player, and allegedly expanded his operations from selling conventional goods to trading drugs on the dark web.
Other individuals were charged with offenses that involved growing marijuana at home and then selling it online or to “neighbors.” Police said that only one of the six suspected “major” sellers had previous drug-related convictions and most of the traffickers had used “dead drop” methods to distribute and buy narcotics.
The investigation reports revealed that buyers paid upfront using BTC and altcoins, while dealers later left bags of drugs hidden in public places, such as apartment entrances. The dealers then contacted buyers via Telegram to inform them about where to pick up the drugs once they had left the area.
However, it appears a few of the suspects were not directly involved in crypto-related drug trading. To this, an office worker in his 40s, who allegedly approached a licensed hemp plantation operator asking for cannabis to help treat a sick child.
The plantation operator believed this story, and took pity on the office worker. Later, police officials found out that the office worker had invented the story, and had been smoking the cannabis he received “for free.” In their press release, a police official stated:
As drug distribution spreads, the line between drug dealers and buyers is becoming blurry.
To this, police forces have invested heavily in blockchain analytics software that they think will help them identify crypto-powered drug trade networks. The National Police Agency’s drugs task force charged 533 people with using BTC or altcoins to buy or sell narcotics last year.
In the past weeks, South Korean authorities have been alarmed by the increasing crimes around crypto assets. Remarkably, considering the rise in crypto-powered drug trafficking after a large number of narcotics-trading teens were handed jail time, Yoon Seok-yeol, president of South Korea, called for all the agencies to work in unison.
Additionally, the South Korean Police have listed dark web tracking, virtual asset analysis, and DDoS attacks as “three central tasks of the cyber-terrorism investigation” that the authorities must urgently address. To this, the Korean authorities have also been working on expediting the regulation process.