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Over 10,000 nabbed for illegal drug use in H1By Son Ji-hyoung
Published : Sept. 12, 2023 - 16:32
South Korea apprehended over 10,000 suspected of illegal drug use during the first half of the year as part of the government initiative to stamp out drug-related crimes in what was once considered a drug-free country.
The number of suspects caught by law enforcement surged to 10,252, up nearly 20 percent compared with the previous year, according to government data unveiled Tuesday. Throughout 2022, 18,395 were nabbed by law enforcement, hitting an all-time high.
The amount of drugs confiscated by law enforcement during the same period amounted to 571 kilograms, up by over 50 percent on-year.
Among the drugs confiscated are meth -- which accounted for over half of all seizures by weight -- marijuana, yaba and other new types of synthetic drugs, according to the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, but it did not elaborate on how many doses the seized narcotics represent.
"The government will use all available resources in the second half of the year to work to eradicate illegal drugs in society," Bang Ki-sun, minister of government policy coordination, said in a statement, as he presided over the 6th meeting of the Pan-Governmental Committee on Narcotic Drugs on Tuesday at the Government Complex Seoul.
"(The government) will work to reinstate (Korea's) status as a drug-free country," he added.
Bang also said that the government proposed to allocate 60.2 billion won ($45.4 million) in 2024 to deal with drug crimes. If the proposed bill passes through parliament, the budget for next year will see a 2.5-fold rise compared with that of this year.
The government says it plans to use the budget to purchase three new high-resolution mass spectrometers, track virtual assets used to trade narcotics, increase the number of narcotics treatment facilities and raise public awareness on the use of drugs.
Prior to the meeting, Bang visited the National Forensic Service in western Seoul to inspect drug-detecting facilities.
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