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5/17/03 - NORTH KOREA'S DRUG CONNECTION - 2003-05-20

On April 16th, a North Korean merchant ship landed a small boat on a remote beach in southern Australia. Its cargo: nearly fifty kilograms of heroin valued at some fifty-million dollars. Australian authorities arrested the drug dealers, the ship's captain, and twenty-nine crewmen. The North Korean vessel carried no legitimate cargo. It was fitted with extra fuel tanks and other equipment used by drug smugglers. The capture was important, says U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker:

"This was a very impressive seizure off Australia's coast, of a North Korean ship, the Pong Su, which was carrying heroin, and it does provide new evidence of trafficking from North Korea and clearly suggests involvement of North Korean state entities in criminal activities."

This is not the first time North Korea has been caught trafficking drugs. In January 2002, the Japanese coast guard seized one-hundred fifty kilograms of methamphetamine from a Chinese ship off Japan. The drugs were believed to have been manufactured in North Korea. In July 2002, Taiwan arrested nine men for attempting to smuggle seventy-nine kilograms of heroin. The heroin had been transferred from a North Korean naval vessel.

The North Korean government is believed to be directly involved in manufacturing heroin and methamphetamine. North Korea is a totalitarian Communist state that subjects all economic activity to its control and has reduced the North Korean people to poverty and starvation.

North Korea's drug trafficking, like its sales of missiles to state sponsors of terrorism, exhibits a reckless disregard for the consequences. Such a regime cannot be permitted to develop a nuclear arsenal.