South Korean Authorities Investigate US Soldiers for Drug Smuggling

South Korean police are currently investigating 17 US soldiers and five other individuals who are allegedly involved in the smuggling and use of synthetic marijuana. The investigation was prompted by raids conducted in May at two US army bases, including Camp Humphreys, the largest overseas base. A Filipino and a South Korean have already been arrested, and prosecutors are reviewing the cases against all 22 suspects.

The investigation was initiated following a tip-off from the US Army’s enforcement arm, leading to a four-month long investigation by Korean authorities. This operation is considered one of the largest in recent years involving American soldiers, according to senior detective Cha Min-seok in South Korea.

During joint raids by South Korean police and the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, law enforcement discovered 77g (2.7oz) of synthetic cannabis, over 4kg of “mixed liquids” used for vaping, and a total of $12,850 in cash at the suspects’ residences. The suspects are accused of smuggling synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2 and Spice, into the country through the US military’s postal service.

Furthermore, it is alleged that seven of the suspects, including five soldiers, were involved in the sale of these drugs, while 12 of them were users and three acted as middlemen. Even a soldier’s spouse and another soldier’s fiancée were found to be involved in this illicit operation.

The 17 soldiers implicated in this investigation are currently stationed at Camp Humphreys and Camp Casey, situated near the capital Seoul. It is believed that they distributed the drugs within the bases while communicating via Snapchat.

The United States Forces Korea has acknowledged the ongoing investigation and stated that no soldiers are currently being detained or confined in relation to the case.

Synthetic marijuana is designed to mimic the effects of THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana. Although it has similar effects, synthetic marijuana is typically more potent and has been reported to cause adverse health effects such as acute psychotic episodes, paranoid delusions, and severe agitation. Moreover, its liquid form makes detection difficult, especially when used in legal e-cigarette devices.

In South Korea, trafficking marijuana is a serious offense that carries a penalty ranging from five years to life in prison. Possession of drugs can result in a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment or a fine of approximately 50 million won ($37,200).

This news highlights the need for increased vigilance and cooperation between US and South Korean authorities to prevent illegal activities within military bases. It also draws attention to the potential dangers of synthetic marijuana and the importance of strict enforcement against drug trafficking.

The impact of this investigation on US-Korea relations and the reputation of US military personnel in South Korea remains to be seen. It is essential for authorities to thoroughly investigate and prosecute those involved to send a message that illegal activities will not be tolerated, especially within military installations.