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Police bust drug ring suspected of peddling to teenagers

June 7, 2023 - 10:52 By Lee Jung-joo
The police are arresting the drug ring's leader at his residence. (Yongin Dongbu Police Station)

A drug ring accused of selling synthetic cannabinoids by passing them off as e-cigarettes to teenagers has been arrested by the police, said Yongin Dongbu Police Station on Monday.

The four suspects are currently detained on suspicion of carrying out an elaborate drug distribution scheme from March to May around Yongin and Suwon of Gyeonggi Province. They are also accused of selling other drugs such as ketamine and ecstasy.

The leader of the ring first bought synthetic cannabinoids worth 5 million won for distribution, while two other distributors -- who are minors -- would work on gathering their friends to become potential clients by first inviting them to a party. After a few drinks, the suspects would convince them to try smoking the drug. If they refused, they would offer it as an e-cigarette and trick them into smoking it.

The suspects confessed that they had planned the crime to "earn more profit from their acquaintances who would become addicted to the drug." They also admitted that they filmed female clients smoking the drugs and “used it to blackmail them for more profit or for exploitation.”

In addition to the suspected dealers, 18 others were taken in under potential drug use charges. Police say all of them were fully aware that they were smoking illegal substances.

For the four minors who were tricked into smoking the synthetic cannabinoids without realizing that it was a drug, the police have connected them to counseling organizations to prevent further problems.

The police have currently expanded their investigation to trace the distributor who sold the synthetic cannabinoids to the suspects.

The e-cigarette cartridge (left) and the e-cigarette liquid bottle used in the crime (Yongin Dongbu Police Station)