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North Korean meth trafficking scandal foiled

| Dec 3, 2013 | Drug Charges

Five foreign nationals arrested in Thailand in September were brought to Maryland’s neighboring state of New York for trial. The five men in custody are all directly linked to an attempt to smuggle 100 kilograms of high-quality North Korean-made methamphetamine into the U.S.

The two Chinese men involved in one of Hong Kong’s crime organizations that allegedly marketed the North Korean meth in China. They struck a deal with affiliates of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA was carrying out a sting operation under the suspicion that the North Korean meth was allegedly intended to be brought into the U.S. The other three individuals allegedly agreed to take part in smuggling to drugs from Thailand to the U.S. by way of boat. All five individuals pleaded not guilty in New York City court to conspiracy-related charges and are being held without bail until their next court hearing on Dec. 5, 2013.

The United States government have put pressure on North Korea’s government to take more action against meth production in their country. Following this request, the North Koreans supposedly halted production from all known meth labs. The two Chinese crime affiliates had bragged during the sting operation that their organization had access to the only meth laboratory left in North Korea and boasted about their 1 ton stash of meth that they kept hidden for safe measure.

The five foreign nationals in this case are facing serious drug charges. However, from a legal standpoint, this case could be fought on the grounds of jurisdiction. Although the U.S. Criminal Code specifies instances of special maritime jurisdiction, the meth in question was not on a boat in international waters. A criminal defense attorney would be a valuable resource in developing a defense for such charges.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “5 charged in US bust over North Korean meth”, Tom Hays, November 20, 2013