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Pubdate: 23 Dec 1999
Source: Japan Times
Contact: opinion@japantimes.co.jp
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
Website: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Record 1.8 tons of drugs seized from underworld syndicates

Amphetamines seized by law enforcement authorities this year up to the end of November totaled more than 1.8 tons, surpassing the accumulated volume confiscated over the preceding five years, the National Police Agency said.

The NPA singled out foreign underworld syndicates operating in Japan as particularly active in cases of mass amphetamine-smuggling, saying their methods of smuggling and trading are becoming very clever.

Stimulants seized in the January-November period amounted to 1,849 kg and had an estimated street value of Y110.8 billion.

The number of people arrested or held for violations of narcotics laws - chiefly suspected stimulant use and possession - stood at 17,140 for the 11-month period, up by 1,175 from last year, the NPA said.

Authorities are trying to crack down on drug smuggling through maritime routes into Japan by cooperating with foreign investigators and combating illicit trading in Japan, it added. The agency said 50 kg or more of stimulants were found in 10 seizure cases over the 11 months, and more than 100 kg in seven.

October saw the largest-ever haul in Japan, when about 565 kg were found on a shore in Kagoshima Prefecture, the NPA said, noting 11 Taiwanese and Chinese and one Japanese were arrested in the case.

The NPA said that of the 10 seizures of 50 kg or more, several were related to smuggling attempts through maritime routes - three from Hong Kong, three from mainland China and one from North Korea.

It believes that amphetamines are being produced in southern China, among other places, and that Hong Kong and Taiwanese crime syndicates are smuggling them into Japan. In eight of the 10 seizures of over 50 kg, no yakuza syndicates were involved but only "foreign group" members who had earlier entered Japan, the NPA said.

The agency also noted that the number of Iranians held in the January-November period fell to 167 from 272 the year before. It attributed the decline to the increasing difficulty of uncovering cases in which Iranians are involved, saying their dealings have become "extremely clever."

In typical cases, the NPA said, Iranians operate in major cities and receive orders on mobile phones, using cars to change their location.

Japan Times,
December 23, 1999

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