South Korean Police Arrest Two, Question US Soldiers in Synthetic Cannabis Smuggling Probe


Seoul, South Korea — In a joint operation, South Korean police have apprehended two individuals and interviewed over a dozen American soldiers on suspicion of smuggling and distributing synthetic cannabis. The raids, executed in May, were disclosed by the Pyeongtaek police department in an official statement released on Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials reported conducting search and seizure actions at Camp Humphreys, located south of Seoul and recognized as the largest US military installation overseas. Additionally, the operation targeted Camp Casey, situated north of the capital. This operation was executed following intelligence provided by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division.

Videos released by the police depict officers entering residential buildings and restraining several individuals, both men and women.

Of the individuals apprehended, a South Korean and a Filipino national were arrested on charges of drug distribution. Subsequently, they were remanded to the prosecution for indictment, as stated by police sources relayed to CNN.

Furthermore, an additional 20 individuals, including 17 US soldiers, were subjected to questioning but not detained. They were subsequently forwarded to the prosecution for further inquiry, the police department clarified.

In South Korea, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal, with the substance carrying significant social and cultural stigma. Offenders face severe penalties, with the maximum sentence for cannabis-related offenses being five years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 50 million Korean won (approximately $37,600).

The police press release alleged that between May and August of this year, a 24-year-old American soldier smuggled 350 milliliters [11.8 oz] of liquid synthetic cannabis from the US mainland via military mail. The soldier purportedly proceeded to distribute and vend it to fellow US soldiers stationed at Camp Humphreys and Camp Casey. This soldier, among those interrogated, allegedly supplied the substance to a Filipino distributor, who subsequently distributed it to a South Korean distributor and other US soldiers.

In the course of the operation, law enforcement confiscated 80 milliliters of synthetic cannabis, 27 electronic cigarette devices, and nearly $13,000 in cash believed to be proceeds from drug sales.

Videos disseminated by the police showcase the seized items, including rolls of $50 and $100 bills, in addition to a multitude of cell phones and cylindrical tubes reminiscent of vape pens.

The release also emphasized that local police are collaborating with the US Army Criminal Investigation Division to probe not only the US soldiers involved but also the alleged sender of the illicit substances in the US, as well as the smuggling route employed.