"At least 50 documented incidents in more than 20 countries around the world, many involving arrest or detention of North Korean diplomats, link North Korea to drug trafficking. Such events, in the context of credible, but unproven, allegations of large scale state sponsorship of drug production and trafficking, raise important issues for the United States and its allies in combating international drug trafficking. The challenge to policy makers is how to pursue an effective counter drug policy and comply with U.S. law which may require cutting off aid to North Korea while pursuing other high-priority U.S. foreign policy objectives including (1) limiting possession and production of weapons of mass destruction; (2) limiting ballistic missile production and export; (3) curbing terrorism, counterfeiting, and international crime; and (4) addressing humanitarian needs. Reports that the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) may be limiting some of its food crop production in favor of drug crop production are particularly disturbing given the country's chronic food shortages, though the acreage in question is comparatively small. Another issue of rising concern is the degree to which profits from any North Korean drug trafficking, counterfeiting, and other crime-for-profit enterprises may be used to underwrite the costs of maintaining or expanding North Korean nuclear and missile programs. […] It remains clear, however, that regardless of the mix of DPRK criminal activities at any particular given point in time, income from DPRK criminal activity continues to play a pivotal role in overall DPRK finances."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32167