North Korea may be pushing a highly potent form of methamphetamine into the United States, with one peddler bragging about a 1-ton stockpile with "Breaking Bad" purity levels, reports said Wednesday.
ABC News reported that five foreign nationals arrested in Thailand were charged with being part of an Asia-based syndicate that plotted to smuggle meth produced in North Korea
into New York.
Court records indicate suppliers agreed to sell 100 kg of North Korean meth — at $60,000 per kg — to a drug trafficker who was actually working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
One of the defendants bragged his organization was the only one that could score meth from North Korea after a government crackdown.
"The North Korean government already burned all the labs," court records quoted the defendant as saying, ABC News reported. "Only our labs are not closed. To show Americans that they are not selling it anymore, they burned it. Then they transfer to another base."
He said his group had a meth stockpile of more than a ton, with "Breaking Bad" levels of 99 percent purity.
The Wednesday indictment stemmed from a larger investigation that led to the September arrest of former Army sharpshooter Joseph Hunter — nicknamed "Rambo" — and four others, NBC News reported.
The five men facing charges are British citizens Scott Stammers and Philip Shackels; Chinese citizen Ye Tiong Tan Lim; Kelly Allan Reyes Peralta, of the Philippines; and Alexander Lnu, thought to be a Slovak resident of Thailand, CNN reported.
"Methamphetamine is a dangerous, potentially deadly drug, whatever its origin," said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, NBC News reported.
"The threat it poses to public health is grave whether it is produced in New York, elsewhere in the U.S., or in North Korea. This investigation shows our determination to close a potential floodgate of supply."
A law enforcement source told NBC News that Hunter was accused in September of leading a ring of globe-trotting contract killers who worked for drug traffickers. Court papers outlined a plot to assassinate a DEA agent and an informant in Liberia for $800,000.
CNN noted that U.S. allegations that the North Korean government aids in or allows the illegal drug trade have long been an irritant in the tense relationship between the two countries.
The current DEA investigation could bolster the U.S. claims.
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