North Korea Reexports Drugs Through China to 3rd World Countries

Daily NK

Though the number of North Korean drug smuggling cases is on the decline, a U.S. report claims that the number of Chinese crime gangs reexporting North Korean drugs to 3rd world countries is on the rise.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) conducted an interview with Researcher Raphael Pearl of the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the 30th regarding his claims in a report “Drug Trafficking and North Korea: Issues for U.S. Policy.

In the report Pearl spoke of an incident where Australian authorities captured a North Korean vessel “Pongsu” in April 2003 which was amidst transporting $160mn worth of heroin and said that this case had “enhanced international attention” on the issue of North Korean drug smuggling and since then the number of drug smuggling incidents had generally declined.

Since 1976, there have been a total of 50 cases where 20 different countries were caught in foreign relations with North Korea for drug trafficking. However, within the last 2 years, the majority of cases of drug smuggling were found in China’s Shenyang, Dalian and Dandong. Further, links to North Korean authorities have yet to be verified regarding these cases.

Pearl said that despite the fact North Korean drug trafficking has declined on the whole there have been cases where North Korean drugs were mistaken for drugs made in China. Also, he said that through the intervention of Chinese crime gangs, North Korean drugs were being reexported to 3rd world countries.

Some argue that the reason drug incidents have declined is due to the fact North Korean authorities have reduced their direct participation in the manufacture of goods. However, more and more Chinese crime gangs are intervening in the manufacture of North Korean drugs and smuggling, he said. In other words, there is a high possibility that North Korean drugs are being reexported through the intercession of China.

Pearl said that North Korean authorities are attempting to compensate the losses from a decline in drug smuggling with the manufacture and smuggling of fake cigarettes, medicines and small weapons. He also emphasized and confirmed the pivotal role of illegal acts such as exporting fake cigarettes and drugs in contributing to North Korea’s economy and income.

In the report, Pearl expressed his concerns on North Korea, giving the example that parts of farming areas had been used to cultivate drugs even amidst a poverty stricken country and indicated that the money from illegal acts such as drug smuggling and counterfeit currency could further add to the development of missiles and nuclear weapons.

He also expressed concern over the issue of segregating North Korean authorities especially with foreign groups being associated with North Korean drug smugglers.


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