A group of men who were arrested in September on charges of conspiring to smuggle 100 kilos of "North Korean-produced methamphetamine" into New York City were brought to New York earlier this week, where they will be prosecuted in the Manhattan Federal Court, authorities announced.
The five defendants— two of whom are British, one Chinese, one Filipino and one Thai—were arrested in Thailand after authorities discovered that two of them, Ye Tiong Tan Lim and Kelly Alan Reyes Peralta, members of a Hong Kong-based criminal organization, agreed to sell the stuff to confidential sources working with the DEA. Lim allegedly explained that his organization is the only one able to obtain the drug from North Korea, according to an indictment:
“Because before, there were eight [other organizations]. But now only us, we have the NK product. . . . [I]t’s only us who can get from North Korea.” Lim further explained that, because of recent international tensions, the North Korean government had destroyed some methamphetamine labs, leaving behind only the labs of Lim’s organization: “And all the, the North Korean government already burned all the labs. Only our labs are not closed...To show Americans that they [the North Korean government] are not selling it any more, they burned it. Then they transfer to another base.” Lim explained that his organization had stockpiled one ton of North Korean methamphetamine in the Philippines for storage, “[b]ecause we already anticipated this thing would happen . . . [whereby] we cannot bring out our goods right now.”
The two alleged conspirators sent along a sample of their product to their associate, Philip Shackels, which tested more than 98 percent pure methamphetamine. This sample, along with another, was then sent along to New York.
“Methamphetamine is a dangerous, potentially deadly drug, whatever its origin. If it ends up in our neighborhoods, 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," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "This investigation shows our determination to close a potential floodgate of supply.”
If convicted, each of the defendants face a minimum sentence of ten years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.