N.K. Drug-trafficking ring confirmed for the first time

Kang Joo-an Yoon Chang-hee
North Korea Net

The South Korean government recently confirmed the existence of 100-member drug trafficking organization in North Korea through the testimony of a defector who revealed his past as a member to the smuggling ring. He was indicted without detention Wednesday by South Korean authorities for his work with the ring.
The young defector aged 26, who refused to be named, revealed that he carried around 50 kilograms of heroin and opium from his hometown of Gilju to various regions in China nine times from March 1998 to January 2000 arranging drug transactions with Chinese compatriots. He reached South Korea last April.
He belonged to a gangster organization in the North known as "Maengsu-pae" meaning "wild beast" with over 100 members.
"We would bribe some officials in charge of a state-run poppy farm in Gilju and get easy access to heroin and opium," the defector said. "We grab about 1-5 kilograms of goods each time to sell them to China." He added there wasn't much problem crossing the border since other officials could also be easily bribed as well.
North Korea has long argued that its poppies are used for medical purposes only and are not abused for any illegal purpose.
Despite numerous reports and likely evidence that pointed out to North Korea's part in drug trafficking cases around China and Southeast Asian nations, this is the first time the government has secured a first-hand account of a large-scale criminal ring in the Stalinist North. Just last November South Korean authorities discovered a ship from North Korea's Rajin port that contained 91 kilograms of heroin.
The incident also proved to be a rare case of South Korean authorities punishing a North Korean for wrongdoing in the North.
"Although he didn't do any wrong here, under our constitution North Korea is part of our nation, its citizens are our citizens as well," a police official explained.