Disclaimer: Since the source for the information below is anonymous, not all of the claims made could be independently verified.
TOKYO (TR) – A person apprehended for possessing or using an illegal drug in the capital may tell arresting officers that they got the contraband in question “from a foreigner.”
Such a claim is often derided on social media for being, at best, scapegoating. However, a self-described foreign dealer for “one of the largest distribution crews” in Tokyo says illegal drugs and foreigners pretty much do go hand-in-hand.
“I’d say from a street aspect and in terms of visibility, and the high demand, it is gaijin-driven. So it’s a foreign problem,” says the anonymous dealer who will be referred to as “E” for this story. “That being said, there’s a little secret world of Japanese meth.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought many businesses to a standstill, but the illicit drug trade in Tokyo is not one of them, says E, who primarily deals in cocaine, or “white.”
“Coronavirus has been fucked,” he says. “Product lines did freeze for a while, and the price went up, and the quality went down, but the demand didn’t go down.”
Government data seems to bear this out: Earlier this year, Japan Customs announced that the amount of cocaine seized was up 28 percent to 818 kilograms in 2020 over one year before.
E had high hopes for the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, but the banning of overseas visitors has tempered those aspirations. Plus, he is leaning toward retirement, which has caused him to reflect on his time dealing in what he calls “a dream” market.
“You go to Kabukicho or Roppongi and you buy trash”
E will only reveal that he is a male in his 30s originating from a country in Europe, where he also has experience as a dealer.
He has resided in Japan on a number of visas, usually through Japanese language schools. “[They are] supposed to report student attendance and grades but there are tons of shady ones,” he says.
E runs a ring that is composed of about 10 members. The operation sells about half a kilogram of cocaine each month — all “high quality,” he assures. The target areas are Shibuya and Minato wards.
“If you know what’s up, you don’t go to Kabukicho or Roppongi,” he says of the two biggest red-light districts in the capital. “If you’re some idiot who’s not connected or you don’t know anything, then you go to Kabukicho or Roppongi and you buy trash.”
Rather, he sells to his male and female customers — mostly Brits, Americans and Aussies — at their residences, or even at a coffee shop. He cites his best customers as working for a foreign bank and an electronics manufacturer. “[They] keep me dressed in Louis Vuitton,” he says.
Tourists are generally off limits. “Tourists are stupid and not to be dealt with, generally. Tourists get drunk, get popped, and rat,” he says.
E’s sources of illegal drugs are generally a Japanese supplier and other foreign gangs. And, before you ask, he confirms, “I do no work with the yakuza, not in the slightest sense.”
The benefits of dealing in Tokyo, E says, are the high margins and relative security.
To understand, you’ll need some background. First, there’s the matter of actual weight. In breaking it down, says E, drugs are dealt based on what is called a “street gram,” which could mean a weight of around 0.5 actual grams (or even less in Tokyo).
A single street gram of white can fetch about 15,000 yen in Tokyo, about three times that of many other places in the world. (According to E, the aforementioned tourists might get suckered into paying around 20,000 yen.)
“The market is like 300 percent on anything I’m used to back home. It’s a dealer’s Disneyland — it’s a dream; it’s madness. I don’t worry about getting shot at, I don’t worry about getting stabbed. It’s so fucking soft-serve here.”
The Rugby World Cup, held in Japan two years ago, upped the ante another notch. During that time, his ring even dealt inside clubs in Roppongi.
“I have never sold so much in my entire time in Japan as I did during the Rugby World Cup. It was fucking insanity. It was mad, mad cash.”
Though cocaine is, as he says, the “power horse,” E also on occasion deals in marijuana (known as “green”), Ecstasy and kakuseizai, or stimulant drugs, which is often a euphemism for methamphetamine.
For the latter, the amounts are small and limited to Japanese customers, who make up a tiny fraction of E’s clientele.
“Meth is biggest with Japanese, and I haven’t penetrated deeply into that world,” he says. Though he does concede to knowing that “housewives and hostesses prefer meth.”
Due to difficulties in handling and a lower mark-up, Marijuana is mostly an afterthought. “Occasionally, what I’ll do is add green cushion to big white orders, just as something nice. But, from my experience, unless you are growing there’s no point being involved in green here.”
Don’t get caught
In 2017, Tokyo police arrested British national Edward James Montague Reid. During a raid of his residence, officers seized cocaine, stimulant drugs, marijuana and Ecstasy tablets.
Such a fate has not befallen E, who says projecting a certain image is important in not getting caught. “I’m a pretty clean-cut guy,” the dealer says. “I know how to dress, how to act, how to be professional. Also, I am not new to this ballgame. I’ve been doing this since I turned 20. I know how to move in public without any worries.”
Probably more crucial is security. In exchanging messages with customers — including an audio interview sent to The Tokyo Reporter — he uses apps that allow for messages to be deleted after a certain amount of time.
Plus, he adds, the police are overmatched. His point of comparison is where he comes from. “Drug dealers back home are smart as fuck,” he implores. “They know the tricks. They know how it works. They know what’s up.”
So when the police of Tokyo are up against someone like that here, it’s not a contest. “They don’t have their head around how it works,” E says.
If it is such a gravy train, why end it all now? Well, for one, E has been in Japan while a charge against him back where he comes from is still active. That case, he believes, is likely to be dropped.
“I’ve stacked some nice paper, and it might be time to pull the plug,” he says.
It might seem counterintuitive then that he would openly acknowledge — albeit anonymously — in this forum to committing crimes in one of the highest profile cities in the world.
It turns out, E’s motive for coming forward is in part for amusement but also to dispel the myth that Japan is a paradise of crime-free streets.
“Being a criminal that is highly involved in frontline work here,” E says. “I would like the world to know that the light of crime is burning brightly.”