South Korean police are currently investigating US soldiers who are allegedly connected to the smuggling and usage of synthetic marijuana.
Along with the 17 US soldiers and five other individuals, they have also arrested a Filipino and a South Korean, reports BBC. Previously, two US army bases, one of which included the largest overseas base, Camp Humphreys, were also raided in May.
A tip from the US army's enforcement led to the four-month investigation by the Korean authorities, one of the largest in recent years involving American soldiers.
Joint raids have helped the South Korean and US Army's Criminal Investigation Division discover 77g of synthetic cannabis, more than 4kg of "mixed liquids" used for vaping, and a total of $12,850 in cash at the 22 suspects' homes.
The suspects' have been accused of smuggling synthetic marijuana into the country through the US military's postal service. Additionally, seven of them, including five soldiers, have been accused of selling the drugs, while 12 were marked as users and the other three were middlemen. According to the South Korean police, a soldier's spouse and another soldier's fiancée are also involved.
The accused soldiers who are currently stationed at Camp Humphreys allegedly distributed the drugs on the bases while communicating via Snapchat, reports BBC.
On Wednesday, the United States Forces Korea released a statement which read that it was aware of the investigation and also noted that no soldiers are currently in confinement or being detained.
Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 and Spice, mirrors the effects of THC. However, it is known to be more potent and its consumption may result in adverse health effects, including acute psychotic episodes, paranoid delusions, and severe agitation.
The substance is said to be difficult to detect due to it being often used in liquid form in legal e-cigarette devices.
Those convicted of trafficking marijuana in South Korea are expected to face five years to life in prison. Drug possession also requires a fine of about 50 million won ($37,200).