Criminal organization charges filed against drug traffickers for 1st time

November 15, 2021

Prosecutors have pressed charges of organizing and operating a criminal ring against 15 drug traffickers accused of distributing drugs via Telegram messenger, the first time such charges have been filed against drug dealers here, officials said Monday.

The Incheon District Prosecutors Office said the charges were filed against the ring’s 25-year-old leader and 14 other collaborators who together smuggled in drugs, sold them via the messenger platform and laundered the proceeds through cryptocurrency.

The prosecution office said it’s the first time the charge of organizing a criminal group, defined under the Criminal Act, has been raised against drug dealers engaged in organized drug distribution.

They have been accused of forming in June last year a systemized drug ring in which members took on different roles to sell drugs on Telegram, including procurement, marketing, vending and money laundering.

The ring eventually sold drugs worth 140 million won (US$118,714) via its Instagram outlets with up to 1,100 members by March this year, according to a prosecution investigation.

The accused allegedly smuggled in 100 million won worth of drugs, ran related advertisements on some 200 occasions and laundered more than 500 million won worth of criminal proceeds via cryptocurrencies, the investigation also showed.

They were initially facing criminal investigations or standing trial on drug charges separately, but later were additionally accused of creating and working in the same criminal ring, the prosecution said. Fourteen of them are currently in prosecution custody.

The prosecution has confiscated or ordered the ring to cough up a total of 820 million won proceeds in cash and cryptocurrencies the ring laundered under borrowed names.