The Justice Ministry said Thursday foreign nationals involved in even minor drug offenses will be subject to deportation and a permanent entry ban, in addition to criminal punishment.
The warning came as the government readies for a nationwide crackdown on illegal aliens for 50 days from June 12 through July 31. The ministries of justice; employment and labor; land, infrastructure and transport; the National Police Agency; and the Korea Coast Guard will take part in the joint inspection.
“Even minor drug offenses will be punished with criminal penalties as well as deportation and an indefinite ban on entry to South Korea in a bid to block narcotics trade and proliferation through citizens of countries where certain narcotics have been legalized,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon said the government will also clamp down on brokers that encourage illegal stays and employment of foreigners, and will do its best to observe due process and protect the rights of foreigners.
According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, during the first three months of this year, a total of 4,124 people were caught on drug-related charges, up 34 percent from a year earlier.
Of the January-March tally, 454, or 11 percent, were foreign nationals. There were 140 Thais, 115 Chinese and 112 Vietnamese and 30 Americans.
On Wednesday, police in Incheon busted a Thai drug ring that allegedly trafficked illicit substances via international post from the Southeast Asian nation and distributed them among fellow Thai workers here. A total of 82 were apprehended, including several drug consumers.