World Bulletin / News Desk
An American soldier charged with smuggling around $11.5 million worth of methamphetamine into South Korea walked free on Friday, after a local court took his circumstances into consideration.
The 19-year-old, identified only as G, was handed a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, by Uijeongbu District Court north of Seoul.
He was charged with smuggling 4 kg of methamphetamine in cookie boxes from the United States through military mail. It was reportedly the biggest quantity of drugs ever known to have been sent through the U.S. Army Post Office.
The teenager could have been hit with a much more serious punishment. Under South Korean law, drug traffickers can be imprisoned for life or even receive a death sentence – even though capital punishment is not carried out in practice.
The court ruled that G agreed to receive drug packages in return for just over $3,000 from a suspected drug ring, with a similar case at a different American military base in South Korea under investigation.
In the Uijeongbu case, the stash was confiscated before it could be sold after being discovered at Incheon International Airport by customs staff last October.
“The crime of drug smuggling should be punished severely due to its negative effect on society. But the court determined the sentences for the U.S. soldier with consideration that the drug was not circulated and he has served faithfully so far," the court ruled according to Yonhap News Agency.
A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division statement revealed G "has been released back to his chain of command for further disposition".