North Korean Officials Implicated in Scores of Drug Trafficking Incidents
By Nate Thayer
North Korea has categorically denied state sponsored criminal syndicates of drug trafficking, trafficking of counterfeit U.S. currency, and other smuggling-for- profit activities by North Korean military, intelligence, and diplomatic officials since 1976.
But the evidence solidly suggests otherwise. The Kim family dynastic government has been linked to hundreds of verifiable incidents involving drug seizures in at least 30 countries involving arrest or detention of North Korean diplomats or officials.
For example, in May 1976, 400 kg hashish were seized from a North Korean (DPRK) diplomat in Egypt.
In July94, Chinese officials arrested a Chinese national on charges of smuggling
6 kg. of North Korean produced heroin through the DPRK Embassy in China
In August 1994, a DPRK intelligence agent was arrested by Russian authorities for trying to sell heroin to Russian mafia group
In January 1995, Chinese officials in Shanghai seize 6 kg. of heroin and
arrested two DPRK nationals, one with a diplomatic passport
In July, 1998, a DPRK. Diplomat was arrested in Egypt with 500,000 tablets of rohypnol — the “date rape” drug.
In January 1998, Russian officials arrested two DPRK diplomats in Moscow with 35 kg. of cocaine smuggled through Mexico.
In October 1998, German officials arrested a DPRK diplomat in Berlin seizing heroin made in North Korea.
On February 12, 1999, an employee of the DPRK consulate in Shenyang, China, was caught attempting to illicitly sell 9 kilograms of opium.
On April 3, 1999, Japanese police caught Yakuza gang members attempting to smuggle 100 kilograms of methamphetamine into Japan on a Chinese ship.
In April 1999, authorities at the Prague airport detained a DPRK diplomat stationed in Bulgaria attempting to smuggle 55 kilograms of the “date rape” drug rohypnol from Bulgaria.
On May 3, 1999, Taiwanese police apprehended four members of a Taiwanese drug organization attempting to smuggle 157 kilograms of DPRK produced methamphetamine.
On October 3, 1999, Japanese authorities seized 564 kilograms of DPRK methamphetamine from the Taiwanese ship “Xin Sheng Ho”; 250 kilograms of DPRK made methamphetamine were also seized by Japanese authorities on February 5, 2000 leading to arrests of members of a Japanese Crime group and members of a North Korean run trading company.
During October through November 2001, Filipino authorities detained a ship twice in their territorial waters which had received first 500 kilograms and then 300 kilograms of methamphetamine from a North Korean ship.
On December 22, 2001, Japanese patrol boats, in a skirmish, sank a North Korean vessel believed to be carrying drugs to Japan —the same vessel had been photographed in 1998 smuggling drugs into Japan.
On January 6, 2002, Japanese authorities seized 150 kilograms of DPRK methamphetamine from a Chinese ship in Japanese territorial waters that had earlier rendezvoused with a DPRK vessel for the drug transfer.
In July 2002, Taiwanese authorities confiscated 79 kilograms of heroin which a local crime group had received from a North Korean battleship.
In November and December 2002, packages containing 500 pounds of methamphetamine from the DPRK floated ashore in Japan.
On April 20, 2003, Australian police seized the DPRK ship, the “Pong Su”, which had attempted to smuggle 125 kilograms of heroin through Singapore into the territorial waters of Australia. Arrested North Koreans included a Korean Workers Party “political officer.” The ship had no other cargo.
In June 2004, two North Korean diplomats working at the North Korean Embassy in Egypt were detained for smuggling 150,000 tablets of Clonazipam, an anti-anxiety drug.
In December 2004, Turkish authorities arrested two North Korean diplomats suspected of smuggling the synthetic drug Captagon to Arab markets. The diplomats, assigned to North Korea’s Embassy in Bulgaria, were found to be carrying over half a million Captagon tablets, with an estimated street value of over $7 million.
And that is only a cursory sampling of the arrest, detention, or expulsion of North Korean officials for smuggling narcotics.
In April 1998 Russian police reported arresting Kil Chae Kyong, the personal secretary in charge of secret funds for Kim Jong Il on charges of trying to sell $30,000 in counterfeit U.S. currency, but that is another story.
A similar litany of official North Korean government officials detained or arrested for trying to smuggle and launder counterfeit U.S. dollars requires another article.