Fans of Breaking Bad, which is arguably the greatest show in television history, know that lead character Walter White was known for making some of the purest crystal meth around. In real life, however, a North Korean meth cooker has Walter “Heisenberg” White beat, with methamphetamine that is 99 percent pure.
Authorities say that five men have been extradited to the U.S. from Thailand for participating in a drug trafficking ring involving the North Korean-produced crystal meth.
Al Jazeera reports that two of the men had already sold 66 pounds of meth in 2012, and that the other three men had agreed to transfer some to the Philippines from Thailand.
Reports show that North Korea is a huge hub for meth exportation, and many people in and around the country are addicted to the drug. Isaac Stone Fish, associate editor at Foreign Policy, says that the country’s lack of medical care led people to start taking the drug for medicinal purposes.
“It does seem like it is very widespread in North Korea,” said Stone Fish. “It wasn’t viewed as an illicit drug, but more as just a kind of medicine. It’s also an appetite suppressant in a country where malnutrition is very common.”
“Our best guess is that crystal meth started being produced on a more industrial scale in the late ‘90s, in part because the heavy rains had destroyed the poppy crop, so opium was a less profitable source,” added Stone Fish.
Past reports show that North Korea has been linked to many cases of drug trafficking over the years, with meth being one of the biggest drugs.