Four Busted in South Korea’s First Darknet Drug Operation

According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s largest news outlet, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department announced the arrest of four suspects in connection with darknet cannabis distribution. Yonhap reported that the main suspect, according to the indictment, had rented out a large building and converted the place into a marijuana grow center. From there, he sold to local dealers and to entities through the darknet.

Seoul police arrested one dealer—a 25-year-old known as Aomo—for selling drugs to a dealer in the downtown residential area of Seoul. Police only identified Aomo, but had seemingly picked up both dealers. They may have picked up one of the marijuana dealers earlier this year, although the details remained unclear at the time of the announcement.

In a case the news agency called the first instance of law enforcement action against darknet drug dealing in South Korea, another suspect had rented 99m² of the fifth floor of a shopping mall. The space, located in Busan, for the group’s needs perfectly. Known only as “Lee,” the main suspect had grown kilograms of marijuana in the rented space. Lee, along with “others,” had rented and then converted the space into partitioned areas: a grow room, a drying room, and a curing room.

The fifth floor “warehouse” was well-equipped for the grow operation, police reported. Lee had lined the walls with insulation foil; he replaced the inbuilt lighting system with proper growing lights; he created a ventilation system; and he had wired automatic heating, cooling, and humidity controls.

The building could also withstand some public intervention. Curtains protected the building’s light from shining through the windows and the ventilation system reached the roof to prevent anyone on the ground from growing suspicious. But thanks to “deepweb monitoring,” the police explained, they had the ability to watch Lee’s every move.

According to the police, they arrested Lee, Aomo, and two others when Lee had visited a local Bitcoin exchanger (not LBC). The group was indicted for cannabis distribution in the darknet and in person, along with additional charges of drug distribution. The prosecutor said that “illegal transactions through the Deep Web are now in the investigation scope of law enforcement.” And, furthermore, he added, “we will continue to crack down on similar crimes by developing tracking techniques.”

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