Former US sailor accused of smuggling drugs arrested, extradited to Japan
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 24, 2013
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A former Yokosuka sailor wanted since 2004 for attempting to smuggle drugs through the military postal system has been extradited from the United States and placed under arrest, Japanese police said Wednesday.
Jonathan Octavio Nunez, 31, was arrested by Japanese police Tuesday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport aboard a Japanese commercial flight parked on the tarmac, a Kanagawa Prefectural Police spokesman said Wednesday. His plane was scheduled to arrive in Tokyo about 12 hours later on Wednesday afternoon, where Nunez, now a civilian, will remain in Japanese custody.
Police plan to forward charges of violating Japan’s narcotics control law to prosecutors on Thursday, the spokesman said.
Nunez will face allegations that he mailed to the post boxes of two civilians at Yokosuka Naval Base more than 30,000 doses of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy; 20,000 doses of narcotics containing a mixture of MDMA and methamphetamine; and, 140 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
Nunez, a former USS Vincennes sailor who was administratively separated from the Navy in 2003, was unemployed prior to the alleged crime and was looking for a way to support the Japanese woman he married in May 2004, according to U.S. federal court documents.
Nunez lived off his wife’s income, and his visa was set to expire.
“His plan was to return to the United States, get a job, and earn some money so that his wife could follow him to Minnesota in September 2004,” according to a 2011 petition filed in Southern Florida federal court that denied his extradition appeal.
In July of 2004, Nunez allegedly mailed packages from Canada to two Yokosuka Morale, Welfare and Recreation workers: Babe Antonio Cole, then 25, and William Eugene Jenkins, then 28.
The packages were intercepted at Narita Airport by Japanese authorities.
In November 2004, Cole and Jenkins were each sentenced in Yokohama District Court to seven years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
Since fleeing Japan, Nunez moved to Minnesota and then left for Peru in 2005 to work for his father’s aviation parts company. After his wife divorced him, Nunez moved to South Florida, where he resided openly until Japan filed extradition claims in 2009.
After Nunez’s 2010 arrest, his attorney filed several appeals to the extradition order, on the grounds that Nunez had not been indicted within the applicable statute of limitations.
Federal judges ultimately ruled that Nunez’s flight suspended the statute, leaving him subject to the U.S.-Japan extradition treaty.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.