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Police bust yakuza and Triad with 8kg of meth

Dec 20,2017
Prosecutors detained and indicted a Korean-Japanese yakuza member surnamed Lee and a Taiwanese Triad member for the illicit smuggling and trading of 8.6 kilograms (19 pounds) of methamphetamine into Korea, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced on Tuesday.

Two accomplices have also been detained and indicted on the same charges.

Authorities raided the crime scene near Yeoksam Station, southern Seoul, and confiscated about 288 million won ($264,758) in narcotics. Prosecutors believe the four chose Korea as a convenient transit point between China and Japan, and suspect the yakuza mobster was to deal part of the supply in Korea before distributing another part in Japan. Lee refused to testify on this speculation.

After manufacturing a medium-sized storage cabinet in Guangzhou, China, Taiwanese drug dealers hid about 16 kilograms of the drug in it, and shipped the cabinet on a cargo ship first to Taiwan, then Hong Kong, and finally to South Korea through Incheon Port. The dealers knew that careful inspection by customs on cargo ships in Korea is more difficult, and used this information to their advantage, according to prosecutors.

Lee and two of the others met near the subway and confirmed their identities through the serial numbers of the 1,000-won notes they possessed, prosecutors reported.

It was not the first time Lee met the Taiwanese drug dealer for an exchange, as they previously traded 2 kilograms of the drug, which is believed to have already been circulated or will be circulated in Japan. Lee is affiliated with the Inagawa-kai, the third-largest yakuza group, prosecutors verified after receiving confirmation from Japanese law enforcement.

Prosecutors began investigating the case in September, in collaboration with Seoul Main Customs and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), and arrested the suspects on Oct. 19.

Two days later, authorities were able to arrest the fourth accomplice, surnamed Hwang, after he used social media to try reaching one of the Taiwanese mobsters, who had already been arrested. Authorities confiscated an additional 10 grams of methamphetamine at Hwang’s home, which Hwang had intended to sell.

The remaining 8 kilograms is suspected to still be under the possession of the Taiwanese mob. Prosecutors are trying to locate it.

BY LAURA SONG [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]