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Lance Cpl. Victor Valdez, 20, was expecting a shipment of some form of cannabis but received 11.37 grams of pills containing hydrocodone and 15.84 grams of pills containing a stimulant, phenyl-methyl-aminopropane hydrochloride. The drugs arrived at the Camp Kinser post office on Oct. 6, 2020. 

Lance Cpl. Victor Valdez, 20, was expecting a shipment of some form of cannabis but received 11.37 grams of pills containing hydrocodone and 15.84 grams of pills containing a stimulant, phenyl-methyl-aminopropane hydrochloride. The drugs arrived at the Camp Kinser post office on Oct. 6, 2020.  (Frank Andrews/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – A Japanese court on Monday sentenced an Okinawa-based Marine to a three-year suspended sentence for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country by mail.

Lance Cpl. Victor Valdez, 20, was indicted Feb. 22 on a charge of violating Japan’s Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act and Customs Law, according to the indictment read over the phone Tuesday by a spokeswoman for Naha District Public Prosecutors Office.

Valdez was expecting a shipment of some form of cannabis but received 11.37 grams of pills containing hydrocodone and 15.84 grams of pills containing a stimulant, phenyl-methyl-aminopropane hydrochloride, according to the indictment. The drugs arrived at the Camp Kinser post office on Oct. 6, 2020.

The parcel was shipped by an “unidentified individual” in Texas on Sept. 28, 2020, and arrived in Japan via Haneda International Airport on Oct. 2, according to the indictment.

Customs officers detected and intercepted the parcel on Oct. 9 at Camp Kinser, so “his attempt was unsuccessful,” the spokeswoman said. It’s customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

Valdez first appeared in Naha District Court on Apr. 27 and was sentenced on May 9, the court’s spokesman said over the phone Tuesday.

Judge Tetsuro Sato sentenced Valdez to “three years with hard labor but suspended the sentence for five years,” the spokesman said.

An Okinawa Police spokesman said he had no information about the case when reached by phone on Tuesday.

Valdez is assigned to Camp Hansen, the Okinawa Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

Four other Okinawa-based Marines were sentenced this year by the same court for similar but unrelated offenses.

Cpl. Deshane Fox, 26, and Lance Cpl. Alfred Johnson, 25, received three-year suspended sentences on March 8 for importing cannabis by mail and selling it to fellow service members.

Lance Cpl. Scott Drebsky, 21, received a 2 ½ year suspended sentence on Feb. 28 after pleading guilty to violating the control act. Cpl. Nicholas Garner received two years in prison with hard labor and a $4,344 fine on Feb. 18.

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Mari Higa is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in 2021. She previously worked as a research consultant and translator. She studied sociology at the University of Birmingham and Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of Social Sciences.
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