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Kanagawa cops: Couple repeatedly smuggled stimulant drugs from Africa

Kazuki Sato
Kazuki Sato (Twitter)

KANAGAWA (TR) – Investigative sources with the Kanagawa Prefectural Police on Monday revealed the arrests of a man and his wife who are suspected of repeatedly smuggling stimulant drugs into Japan from Africa, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Apr. 23).

On April 5, Kazuki Sato, 43, who manages a pet shop in Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and his wife, 34-year-old Natsumi, 34, allegedly concealed 30 kilograms of kakuseizai, or stimulant drugs, inside bags of coffee placed in two sports bags upon arrival at Haneda Airport via a flight from Nairobi, Kenya.

Customs officials alerted police after discovering the hidden contraband, which has an estimated street value of around 1.8 billion yen.

According to the Hodogaya Police Station, the couple has visited Kenya with their sons, aged 5 and 15, about three times annually since 2014 during holiday periods. During questioning, Sato said that a man he met a restaurant in Yokohama five years ago inquired about whether he wanted to smuggle drugs.

Sato and his family have since served as smugglers on six occasions, earning up to 10 million yen per trip, police said. The suspect said that he did it to pay off debts. He also said that the man he met in Yokohama suggested that they take their children to make the visits appear to be for sightseeing.

However, customs officials said that the family hardly took any photographs and rarely left their hotel room. Officials also found out that the oldest boy stopped going on the trips due to the fact that they did not go sightseeing, according to TBS News (Apr. 23).

The 30 kilograms of stimulant drugs seized is the largest amount ever confiscated in a case involving the use of a passenger aircraft, customs officials said.