SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- Online drug trafficking spiked last year, data showed Wednesday, probably due to the continued spread of the internet and COVID-19.
The data from the National Police Agency said 2,608 people were detained last year for trading drugs online. The corresponding figures stood at 1,120 in 2016, 1,100 in 2017, 1,516 in 2018 and 2,109 in 2019. In all, the number of drug offenders detained by police soared 133 percent for four years between 2016 and 2019.
The total number of drug offenders also increased by about 38 percent from 8,853 in 2016 to 12,209 last year.
Notably, the proportion of online drug offenses in the total increased from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 21.4 percent last year. In a similar trend, the number of drug offenders among young people in their 10s and 20s, who are deemed more active online, has also increased steeply.
The number of drug offenders in their 10s rose from 81 in 2016 to 164 in 2019 and 241 last year. The number of drug offenders in their 20s also surged from 1,327 in 2016 to 2,422 in 2019 and 3,211 last year.
Rep. Park Wan-joo of the ruling Democratic Party, who released the police data to the media, said comprehensive countermeasures should be devised to crack down on online drug transactions, which are more difficult to detect than offline ones.