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Tokyo police: Drug trafficking involving foreigners in Roppongi ‘spreading like an infestation’

Roppongi in Tokyo
According to Tokyo police, the number of foreigners involved in drug-related crimes in the Roppongi entertainment area is on the rise (The Tokyo Reporter)

TOKYO (TR) – In July, Tokyo Metropolitan Police raided the Minami Azabu residence of Edward James Montague Reid, a 43-year-old British national. Located near the Roppongi nightlife quarter, the residence contained what can be best described as what might appear at an illegal drug fair.

Officers seized 239 grams of cocaine, 92 grams of kakuseizai, or stimulant drugs, 467 grams of marijuana and 750 tablets of MDMA, which is also known as Ecstasy.

The contraband has combined street value of about 20 million yen. Reid was later arrested and prosecuted on suspicion of possession of illegal drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

According to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 3), the case highlights the worsening problem of illegal drugs — particularly cocaine — circulating in the foreign community in Roppongi.

“We are seeing signs that it is spreading like an infestation,” an investigator says.

According to police, they were tipped off about trafficking in cocaine by foreigners in April. Reid subsequently became the focus of their investigative efforts.

“Peddling cocaine”

Reid is a contract employee at a translation firm. By bicycle or on foot, he visited about 10 clubs in Roppongi, frequented by foreigners and Japanese, to broker transactions on a regular basis. “In each [club], it seems he was peddling cocaine and other drugs,” another investigator says.

Police believe Reid sold illegal drugs to between 40 and 50 customers who frequent clubs in the Roppongi area between April and July. “For a lot of the users, we were able to trace the source of the drugs back to Reid,” the aforementioned investigator says.

In handling the transactions, the defendant accepted the virtual currency bitcoin, police said.

“Illegal drugs entered my body”

Last week, police re-arrested Reid for use of stimulant drugs and cocaine on around July 18. “[The illegal drugs] entered my body,” the defendant was quoted by police in partially admitting to the latest allegations. He has declined to comment on the charges of possession of illegal drugs.

Over the past two years, police have observed a surge in busts for cocaine-related crimes across the metropolis. Between January and August of last year, police arrested 37 persons in 110 busts. Over the same period this year, the number of arrests was more than double (76) while the number of busts surged (155).

Number of busts nationwide hit record in 2016

The trend is similar nationwide. In 2008, the number of busts for cocaine-related crimes hit 261, the highest on record, but eight years later the figure fell below 100. Since then, the number has surged, reaching 364 last year.

According to a police representative, the number of foreigners, particularly American, French and British nationals, involved in cocaine-related cases in the Roppongi area stand out.

“With the Olympic Games three years away, the influx of foreigners will surge in the coming years,” the representative says. “Therefore, it is necessary to further strengthen our crackdown efforts.”