A total of 994 people have been arrested for purchasing narcotics from overseas via the Internet since 2008, police said Monday.
The National Police Agency (NPA) said 90 percent of those arrested were first-time offenders, and that the number is likely to increase with increasing use of mobile devices that allow easy online access.
The NPA said the narcotics were mainly brought in via international mail or parcels from countries, including the United States, China, Hungary, Taiwan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
“Such ways of drug smuggling usually occurs in North America and Europe,” an investigator said.
Those arrested included native-English teachers and Korean students who studied abroad in the past, according to the NPA.
The NPA will discuss ways of rooting out the criminal activity during an International Working Group Meeting on Drug Smuggling Responses.
The two-day meeting in Seoul is expected to draw about 110 officials, experts, and police officers from the United Nations and Interpol as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States. Other participants will be from China, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands through where the Koreans purchased the narcotics online.
“We especially look forward to discussing with experts from China because it’s the place where drugs are mainly sent from,” an NPA officer said.
According to the Korea Customs Service, the amount of narcotics found in attempted smuggling operations from China last year was 6,287 grams, a 54-percent increase from 4,073 grams in 2010.
The NPA added that it will also work with the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), an anti-drug agency in Thailand
“A number of Africa-based drug trafficking rings use Thailand and its neighbors such as Myanmar and Laos as their Asian headquarters. They then use Korea as a transit center before shipping their illegal products to the U.S.,” the officer said.
“Drug trafficking has become more sophisticated nowadays by using mobile devices such as smartphones, making it pretty difficult to crackdown,” he said.
“And we hope the international experts will share their ideas to come up with the best possible solutions for effective control of narcotics around the world,” he added.