A South Korean national who was arrested in Poipet City late last month on suspicion of drug smuggling will be deported back to his home country on Wednesday, an official said on Monday, just days after two other South Koreans were arrested in similar circumstances.
Kim Kyoungho, 42, was apprehended at the Poipet International Checkpoint on December 31 after Interpol issued a “Red Notice” for his arrest at the request of South Korean police, who suspect him of trafficking drugs from Cambodia into South Korea, said In Song, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department.
“Kim Kyoungho will be deported on January 27 as South Korean police have bought an air ticket for him to return,” Mr. Song said.
“We arrested Kyoungho as he tried to cross the border from Cambodia to Thailand,” he added.
Mr. Kim’s deportation announcement follows the arrest of fellow South Koreans Lee Taehwa, 47, and Kim In Bae, 56, who were both apprehended at the same checkpoint on Wednesday.
“These men are now in our anti-drug police custody for their deportation to their country—they are the second ‘Red Notice’ case,” Mr. Song said, referring to Interpol’s designation for individuals on its list of most-wanted criminals.
Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said the three South Koreans were part of a smuggling network that was testing the viability of new trafficking routes.
“This is a new group, and they are testing how to do drug trafficking from Cambodia to South Korea,” Lieutenant General Vyrith said. “They have smuggled a few times already in small amounts, because they are still in the testing phase.”
Lt. Gen. Vyrith said Cambodian and South Korean police were continuing to investigate the group.
“Their ringleader is still at large, and our anti-drug police are now seeking his arrest,” he said. “So, our cooperation with the South Korean police will continue.”
Officials could not provide further information on what drugs were being smuggled by the group or how many people were suspected of being part of the operation.
South Korean traffickers have previously been suspected of moving drugs from the Golden Triangle —a mountainous region overlapping Burma, Laos and Thailand that is synonymous with the production of opium, heroin and increasingly methamphetamine, according to the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime.
Drug-smuggling cases uncovered by the South Korea Customs Service rose by over 50 percent between 2009 and 2012, with international media reports noting the country was being used as a transit point to get narcotics to the U.S., Japan and Europe.