On Sunday 23rd of December 2018, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office declared that they apprehended nine drug dealers all in their 20s and 30s who trafficked drugs via the darknet. Mr. Shin, one of the arrested men, is also the owner of the dark web website through which the suspects conducted the narco-trade.
The group is accused of growing and selling self-made marijuana and hashish, selling psychoactive drugs such as LSD and MDMA imported from other countries, and using drugs. Between March and November of 2018, the website had 636 members with an estimated number of 50 drug sales.
It is the first time in South Korea an administrator of a darknet drug website has been arrested and its website shut down. The online marketplace had 636 members between March and November of 2018 and reportedly brokered sales of drugs on 50 occasions. Members often used the “DarkCoin” cryptocurrency.
Prosecution confiscated and investigated multiple computers and phones, alongside a sum of $88,700 considered to have derived from illegal activities.
The group is facing decades or even life in prison. According to the strict South Korean drug laws, regulated through the Narcotics Act, the Psychotropic Drugs Control Act, and the Cannabis Control Act. The minimum expected sentence is 20 years of incarceration, hefty fines, property seizures, and mandatory rehabilitation programs.
Despite the medical cannabis reform South Korea, recreational cannabis remains strictly forbidden, punishable by up to five years of incarceration and a fine of about $44,000. Furthermore, both LSD and MDMA are considered hard drugs punishable by harder standards. Also, the selling of drugs with the primary intent of making profit also carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.