NARA (TR) – The Kazuraki branch of the Nara District Court on Thursday handed prison sentences to organized crime members over a marijuana cultivation operation that involved thousands of plants inside a growing factory in the town of Katsuragi, Wakayama Prefecture, reports Mainichi Broadcasting System (June 23).
Presiding judge Tetsuya Okuda described the operation as “carefully planned, systematic and of a scale rarely seen” in handing Junichi Kimura, 54-year-old member of the Osaka-based Azuma-gumi, a three-year prison sentence and a fine of 500,000 yen. Two members of the same gang received sentences of between three and five years and fines of up to 1 million yen.
Yukio Nakao, 63, was considered the mastermind of the operation. “While managing light and temperature, you cultivated marijuana in a planned and systematic manner. With such a large-scale crime, illegal drugs can be spread in a way that is dangerous, which is very malicious,” the judge said in handing Nakao sentence of seven years and a fine of 3 million yen, according to NHK (June 22).
The prosecution claimed that Nakao rented the factory property in April of last year and made investments in materials and equipment for cultivation valued at 40 million yen. Kimura served as a consultant to the operation, visiting the property two to three times each week.
According to the indictment, the four defendants worked together to raise about 11,000 plants between July and October of last year. When officers raided the operation in October, about 4,000 dried plants valued at around 2 billion yen were found on the premises.