SEOUL — A former U.S. soldier is in custody on suspicion that he distributed Spice to more than a dozen servicemembers, the latest in a string of incidents involving the American military and synthetic marijuana in South Korea.
A joint investigation of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Korea National Police led to the apprehension of the man, who has been living in Pyeongtaek with a woman who is still in the Army, according to a 2nd Infantry Division statement. Both are in their 20s.
The suspect, whose name was not released by authorities, was discharged from the military in June due to “a pattern of misconduct,” the statement said.
The woman has not been charged, but the investigation is continuing. The 2ID release identified her as the suspect’s wife, but a Pyeongtaek police official said the couple were recently divorced and still living together. Police said the woman is based at Camp Humphreys.
Army investigators conducted surveillance on the suspect, then brought in Korean police to search his residence, where about two pounds of what is believed to be Spice and a large sum of money were found, the 2ID reported.
Pyeongtaek Police Chief Park Sang Yung said the suspect was selling the drug to servicemembers at roughly $100 per ounce after getting it through the military mail system, and sent some of the proceeds back to the U.S. to his family.
The suspect was being held Monday in the Pyeongtaek Police Station, and his case will be referred to the Pyeongtaek District Prosecutor’s Office later this week, police said.
“I applaud the combined efforts of our U.S. and (South Korean) investigators,” said Maj. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, the 2ID commander. “There is no room for Spice or other illegal drugs in the military.”
A U.S. soldier was sentenced last week to 2½ years in prison for smuggling into South Korea more than five pounds of an active ingredient found in synthetic marijuana.
Prior to that, authorities announced the discovery of a drug-smuggling ring that involved at least a half-dozen people — most of whom are believed to be former or current U.S. Forces Korea soldiers or to have some connection to the military — who participated in ordering or selling synthetic marijuana.