Fri, Jun 07, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Japan police arrest group of Chinese for smuggling

AP, TOKYO

Japanese authorities have arrested seven Chinese men on suspicion of smuggling what is believed to be a record amount of stimulants, police and media reports said on Wednesday, amid concern about growing drug use among ordinary people following a series of arrests of government officials and celebrities.

Tokyo police said that seven Chinese were arrested this week on suspicion of possessing “large amounts” of stimulants on the Izu coast, west of Tokyo.

Police on a stakeout arrested the men while they were unloading bags from their boat onto the beach, Kyodo News reported.

The seven men allegedly possessed nearly 1 tonne of amphetamines, a record one-time seizure in Japan estimated to be worth ¥60 billion (US$554.3 million), Japan Broadcasting Corp said.

The drugs are believed to have been smuggled from Hong Kong, it added.

The amount is about the same as the annual total seized over the past three years.

Last year, authorities seized 1.1 tonnes of stimulants, including 784kg smuggled into the country from overseas, Japanese National Police Agency data showed.

Drug smuggling has been on the rise, the agency said, with more than 150 people arrested last year for alleged stimulant smuggling from overseas, or 1.6 percent of the total number of people arrested for breaches of stimulant control laws.

While most stimulant law offenders are linked to gangster groups, the agency expressed concern about growing drug use among ordinary and younger people.

Last last month, police arrested a 44-year-old Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology official for alleged possession of stimulants and marijuana.

Days earlier, prosecutors charged a 28-year-old Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official with stimulant use and possession.

Popular musician and actor Pierre Taki, whose real name is Masanori Taki, is on trial after being arrested in March for alleged cocaine use.

Illegal drugs are sold at higher prices in Japan than elsewhere, making it a lucrative market, and its coastline provides convenient access for smugglers, experts have said.

The arrests of the Chinese suspects were part of an ongoing investigation into international drug rings and gangster groups following reports of suspicious ships in the Izu area.

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