Japan narcotics bust nets eight in gang, ¥3 billion in drugs deemed dangerous

Japanese authorities have confiscated dangerous narcotic-like drugs worth some ¥3 billion, one of the largest seized amounts in the country, as they busted a production site operated by alleged traffickers.

The Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare’s narcotics control department arrested eight members of the group, aged between 23 and 76, on suspicion of possessing and selling narcotic-like drugs through the internet in violation of the pharmaceuticals and medical devices law.

Among the arrested was group leader Manabu Iwamura, 50, an unemployed male resident of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.

He has told investigators that the group started making and selling the drugs about three years ago and sold around ¥30 million worth per month.

The department of the health ministry’s regional bureau alleges that Iwamura sold drugs containing designated chemicals to a man from Kyoto Prefecture in June and possessed such drugs in a two-story house in Kawasaki in September.

The department searched the house in September and seized some 180 kg of dangerous drugs, 1.6 tons of herbs that can be used to make such drugs, and related devices, including agitating and centrifugal machines.

Iwamura used to distribute such drugs to retail shops.

After opening a trafficking website in 2014, he hired people to help him with the work at the Kawasaki house to make and ship dangerous drugs and manage customer information.

Iwamura made customers pay with bitcoin.

His group is suspected of having sold dangerous drugs worth nearly ¥1 billion to over 5,000 people across Japan.

The department is investigating the flow of funds and other details of the case, eyeing the possibility that other trafficking groups may be involved.

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