UN Official Says N. Korea Involved in Drug Trade

UN Official Says N. Korea Involved in Drug Trade
Posted by FoM on February 23, 2000 at 21:51:17 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Fox News
North Korean ships are "heavily involved'' in drug trafficking, underscoring the isolated communist nation's role in the illegal trade, a U.N. official said Wednesday. Japanese maritime authorities seized "a number of ships from North Korea'' late last year and found "significant quantities'' of drugs, said Sandro Calvani, the U.N. Drug Control Program's top official in the region. 
"North Korean ships are heavily involved in trafficking drugs,'' Calvani said. Although Calvani refused to characterize the extent of the Stalinist government's collusion, he said North Korea's isolation and refusal to join international drug-fighting treaties made it a natural haven for trafficking. Calvani's comments, at a Beijing news conference about a global report on drug control, add to mounting evidence that North Korea has turned to the drug trade to earn desperately needed hard currency. Its centrally planned economy has all but collapsed amid chronic food shortages, now in their fifth year. South Korea's leading spy agency reported in October that North Korea is producing 40 tons of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs a year for export. The National Intelligence Service said North Korean diplomats and trade officials distributed the contraband, a charge North Korean diplomatic missions denied. Calvani said North Korea's involvement fits a pattern in international drug trafficking. Traffickers gravitate toward countries that are struggling or in disarray and where law enforcement is easily corruptible, he said. Chaos in Afghanistan has accompanied its rise as a top heroin producer, he said, and better enforcement in Iran sent traffickers to unstable Tajikistan. In East and Southeast Asia, marijuana cultivation is spreading, heroin use and trafficking is prevalent and trade in methamphetamines is growing, said the report issued by the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board, which oversees the implementation of U.N. drug treaties. BEIJING (AP) 10.37 p.m. ET (347 GMT) February 23, 2000comments  Associated Press. Reuters Ltd.  News Digital Media 2000. 
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