Korea snags two pot shipments through military mail

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Korea snags two pot shipments through military mail

by: Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: October 31, 2013

SEOUL — South Korea’s customs agency said Wednesday it has thwarted two attempts this year to ship marijuana through the U.S. Forces Korea mail system following implementation of more stringent measures to detect military drug smuggling.

Sniffer dogs found 944 grams of marijuana concealed in coffee products at the Joint Military Mail Terminal at Incheon Airport in January and nearly 204 grams of marijuana and marijuana-laced cookies inside female boots in April, according to the Korea Customs Service.

The KCS seized more than twice that amount of drugs in 2012, when officials confiscated 2,837 grams of synthetic marijuana in two smuggling attempts and 68 grams of pot in four other shipments.

Some of those shipments may have been connected to a smuggling ring that operated in 2011-12 and led South Korean police to investigate more than two dozen people for manufacturing, selling or using Spice.

At least two U.S. soldiers were convicted of involvement in the ring. South Korean police said 13 of those who were investigated were U.S. troops, though that number that was not confirmed by the U.S. military.

Even though some of the Spice was shipped through South Korean postal system, one National Assembly member called the JMMT “a new drug smuggling route.”

A KCS officer, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said both KCS and USFK have stepped up their mail monitoring efforts with apparent success. KCS said last year that it was increasing the number of packages opened and hiring additional inspectors.

However, some South Korean media portrayed news of the two marijuana shipments as evidence that USFK drug smuggling has gone unchecked.

A KCS spokesman said the agency is not planning additional crackdown measures.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com

chang.yookyong@stripes.com

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