Narita Customs Cannabis and Sniffer Dog Training part 2: Kyodo says it’s happened 160 times since last September


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Hi Blog. Updating older issue about Narita Customs lacing NJ bag with drugs to test their dogs. Narita originally said it was one bad egg. Kyodo reports that it’s definitely not an isolated incident. Amazing what people think they can get away with… More on that in my next Japan Times article next Tuesday. And read all the way to the end of the article for a bonus irony. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Customs say officers have planted drugs in unwitting travelers’ bags 160 times for training
Kyodo News/Japan Today Monday 30th June, 03:36 PM JST
Courtesy of Adamu and Max

NARITA —Three customs officers have planted packages of cannabis resin in the luggage of travelers arriving at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo without notice a total of 160 times since last September to train drug sniffer dogs, Tokyo Customs said Monday.

Disciplinary actions have been taken against the three officers and nine senior customs officials as such acts are banned under Tokyo Customs’ in-house rules.

Among the three was a 38-year-old customs officer who planted cannabis resin in the luggage of a traveler from Hong Kong earlier this year.

The officer failed to retrieve the resin before the traveler got his luggage and left the airport on May 25. The following day, Tokyo Customs recovered the 120 grams of resin at a Tokyo hotel where the traveler was staying.

The officer, who has been found to have planted drugs in travelers’ bags 90 times, has been suspended from duty for three months in a disciplinary action.

A 10% salary cut for three months has been imposed on two other customs officers who also planted packages of cannabis resin in travelers’ luggage 10 and some 60 times, respectively.

The head of Tokyo Customs was among the nine senior officials who were also given pay cuts and warnings.

Tokyo Customs said it has banned its officers from putting drugs in travelers’ luggage without notice for the training of sniffer dogs.

Now check out this irony. What an odd dovetail:

Japan’s candidate elected to top post of world customs body
Japan Today Sunday 29th June, 12:02 AM JST

A candidate fielded by Japan for the top post of the Brussels-based World Customs Organization won an election on Saturday, becoming the first Asian chief of the body that promotes harmonization of customs procedures worldwide.

WCO Deputy Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya, 54, a former Japanese Finance Ministry official, beat eight other candidates to succeed Secretary General Michel Danet of France, whose term will expire at the end of 2008.

Wonder what his first move will be in regards to this? Debito

11 comments on “Narita Customs Cannabis and Sniffer Dog Training part 2: Kyodo says it’s happened 160 times since last September

  • These are really spooking news indeed.
    And the worst thing is that those 3 officers did it 160 TIMES…..not ONE.
    The spokesman on tv says that nobody knew and the three did that by their own
    will without telling anybody else….. Ok. Do you believe that ???
    I don’t. 160 times is way too many.

    Also, I think that the punishment is way too light for what they did (which could
    result in very terrible consequences).
    They should be immediately fired and they should also pay a BIG fine.
    Their chief should be fired too, because not knowing is not a good excuse enough.
    The punishment they received is a joke and an insult to the public.
    What is the government doing ? Where is the Justice here ?
    And then they arrest a 16 y.o. girl who posts threats on the net (which I do not
    justify anyway).
    Could it be because they are part of a PUBLIC system….? I don’t know.

    By the way, it would be interesting to know if all the bags where owned by foreigners
    or also by Japanese nationals…

    Lastly, I wonder if one, by mistake, would go to another country where there is the death
    penalty for drug smuggling without knowing that they have a nice “present” in their suitcase….
    It’s a nightmare…

  • That is some of the most irresponsible police work I have ever heard of in my life. Just ridiculous. No excuse.

  • –> MAX

    Sorry to tell you, but this is Japan, the country where a teacher can grope his students and only be suspended for a year. Government officials rarely, if ever, put themselves or their subordinates out of a job.

  • Dave Revering says:

    This is unbelievable! There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is not limited to 3 individuals and is being ordered from above. Take a close look at the following quote from the article.

    “The officer failed to retrieve the resin before the traveler got his luggage and left the airport on May 25. The following day, Tokyo Customs recovered the 120 grams of resin at a Tokyo hotel where the traveler was staying.”

    If Tokyo Customs actually went to the guy’s hotel to recover the resin you can bet your bottom dollar (or Yen if you prefer) that this does not involve “rogue” customs agents.

    I shared this with my good friend who works for the US Dept. of Homeland Security. At first he thought this was an urban legend or joke. After asking him to look closer he was in shock. His comment was something on the line “I will never, ever check luggage on an international flight to or from Japan again”.

    I have to agree.

    Now one must ask, where are the other people who had drugs planted in their bags? If there are so many incidents one would think others would report this action as well, unless they fear reprisal.

    I guess in light of recent events and actions in Japan I would fear reprisal as well.

    This action is on the level (or below) that of most 3rd world nations I have visited

  • As others have mentioned above, the punishments seem far too lenient for the error (crime?) committed by the customs officials. Planting drugs on unknowing, paying passengers would logically result in termination of employment and criminal charges. Or are authorities above the law? I’m certain if Joe Bob on the street slipped some illegal substances into Jane Mary’s bag to “test the sniffer dogs”, he’d find himself in a jail cell real quick.

    Now I know why everybody wants a government job in Japan: zero accountability.

  • and of course they only put the dope into foreignors suitcases god forbid if they ever put the dope in a japanese persons suitcase,,..

  • One of the scariest aspects of this issue for me is the question of whether someone has ever been inadvertantly nabbed domestically for possession/importation by a different officer and had the ‘training’ officer keep his mouth shut about having been the one to plant the drugs for fear of getting himself in trouble. If it was indeed the case that only these few officers mentioned knew of the practice then it is highly possible that other customs officers would be blissfully unaware of the truth and would think they were making legitimate busts.

  • Passing through the customs to enter in Japan:

    (smiling) Hellooo

    officer: Hi, anyhting to declare ?

    Nooo. Just a few souvenirs.

    officer: May I take a look ?

    Suuureee. Go ahead (still smiling).

    Officer: Hey what’s this ?? (taking out a nice bag full of pot)
    You are under arrest.

    (smile fading away substitued by a mask of terror) Hey that’s not mine, I sweaaaaaar…..

    Officer (dragging you away) : Yeah, yeah, they all say that.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    I’m disappointed by the lack of media coverage of this. 160 times, and there is no reason to think that they would not continue to plant drugs in passengers’ luggage.
    Too bad the local media is more concerned with what its Olympic swimming team will wear…


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