The police have indicted a 40-year-old American on charges of getting an illegal prescription for opioid painkillers and selling them on the internet and referred the case to the prosecution.
According to the Nowon Police Station, the suspect had visited Korea frequently since 2008 and settled in the country in 2010 with an E2 (teaching) visa to teach English. Afterward, he married a Korean woman and obtained an F6 visa.
Since December 2013, he has sold the opioid painkillers after getting the prescription for oxycodone and fentanyl by complaining severe back pain visiting several clinics in Seoul. After collecting a few-month worth of supply, he has allegedly taken large doses of the drugs himself, and sold the rest, the police said.
The man advertised the unused drugs on the internet and sent them to customers in 32 countries, including the U.S., Australia, and Gabon. He hid the drugs inside cheap computer devices and documents.
The drug trafficking was put to an end after the U.S. Customs Service notified the Korean police that they had seized pharmaceutical drugs hidden inside a package and sent it back to Korea in February. The box contained 72 fentanyl patches and 45 pills of oxycodone.
The police estimated that the total amount of drugs he smuggled out of the country amounted to at least 1.2 billion won ($1 million).
“He regularly sold a batch containing either 100 oxycodone tablets or 5 fentanyl patches,” the police said to Joongang Daily, a Korean news outlet. “The 1.2 billion won is only a minimum estimate, and we suspect that the actual amount of the crime will be much higher.”
The police noted that his alleged crime had gone unnoticed as the sale of the opioids were not specified on Korea’s Drug Utilization Review (DUR), which tracks prescriptions given to individuals, as he was a foreigner who did not receive any insurance benefits while purchasing the drug.
As the DUR did not record his prescription, local clinics also had no way of knowing about his previous prescriptions.
“The man used the loophole to his advantage and would visit several local clinics to stock up on four to five months’ worth of drugs a month,” police said. “The man visited four clinics in Gangnam, southern Seoul, and four in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, to obtain the drugs.”
The police plan to investigate whether there are more clinics that the man visited while requesting to the Ministry of Drug and Safety to check on any additional false or excessive prescription made under his name.
The police also referred the man’s wife to the prosecution as an accomplice without detention, as the man allegedly received some of the opioid painkillers prescribed by the clinic under her name.