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Shizuoka: Record drug bust preceded by 18-month investigation

SHIZUOKA (TR) – The record seizure of stimulant drugs in the town of Minamiizu earlier this month was preceded by an 18-month investigation, investigative sources have revealed, reports the Asahi Shimbun (June 18).

On June 3, officers seized one ton of kakuseizai, or stimulant drugs, from a boat along the coast of the harbor. Packed in bags weighing around two kilograms, the contraband is valued at around 60 billion yen, police said previously.

Officers also arrested seven Chinese nationals, aged between 24 and 40. All of the suspects deny the allegations, telling police they “do not know” anything about the matter, police said previously.

Officers suspect the drugs were loaded onto the craft from another ship at sea and brought to the coast as a part of a drug trafficking ring.

Shizuoka police seized 1 ton of stimulant drugs from a boat earlier this month
Shizuoka police seized 1 ton of stimulant drugs from a boat earlier this month (Twitter)

“Suspicious” boat

In November, 2017, police received a tip from a local resident about a “suspicious” boat maneuvering back and forth in the harbor.Tokyo Metropolitan Police, the Japan Coast Guard and Tokyo Customs officials began monitoring more than 10 individuals, according to the sources.

Among those individuals was one man who regularly traveled between Hong Kong and Japan. Several other persons were found to have traveled by air from Hong to Japan in May. These persons were seen visiting the harbor and a yacht club in Yokohama City where they registered a boat.

On May 31, the boat departed the Yokohama club with three men aboard. After traveling to Hachijojima Island for fuel, it ventured hundreds of kilometers south into the Pacific Ocean where the crew was seen retrieving something from the water.

Origin from Hong Kong

At around 9:30 p.m. on June 3, officers arrested four of the Chinese nationals as the cargo was being unloaded in the harbor in Minamiizu. The other three were apprehended later after they fled the scene.

Police believe that the origin of the drugs was Hong Kong, with another vessel having been used to transfer the contraband to the boat used by the suspects.

The amount seized is a nationwide record. The previous record was the 600 kilograms of stimulant drugs seized by police from a yacht in Okinawa Prefecture in 2016.