Prosecutors, not police, decide formal charges under the Japanese justice system.

Prosecutors, not police, decide formal charges under the Japanese justice system. (Vecteezy)

Eight service members at Kadena Air Base may face charges of importing illegal drugs into Japan by mail over the past year.

Japanese investigators on Wednesday recommended drug smuggling charges against three men and five women, all in their 20s, to the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office, an office spokesman said by phone Monday.

He declined to identify the eight individuals or provide updates on decisions to prosecute them.

Each airman is suspected of ordering 10 to 30 grams of a so-called designer drug, MDMB-4en-PINACA, from illegal drugs sales websites and having it delivered to Okinawa starting in May, the spokesman said. The drugs were in liquid form and packaged in canisters used for vaping.

MDMB-4en-PINACA is a synthetic drug created to have similar effect as tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Okinawa Regional Customs discovered the drugs and reported them to the Okinawa Narcotics Control office, whose agents joined the Air Force Office of Special Investigations on all eight cases, the prosecutors’ spokesman said.

The narcotics control office provided information about the drug sales websites to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to an Okinawa Times report on Friday.

“We can confirm that the 18th Security Forces Squadron and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations coordinate closely with Japanese law enforcement on any case involving violations of Japanese law,” a spokeswoman for Kadena’s 18th Wing, Master Sgt. Natasha Stannard, said by email Monday. “The Air Force takes Japanese customs laws seriously and any Airmen found to have committed criminal acts will be held accountable for their actions.”

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.
author picture
Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now