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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese and U.S. military police are investigating the attempted smuggling of a submachine gun and bullets into Japan from Iraq through the military postal system.

The package was discovered in March, according to a spokesman for Japan’s Okinawa Regional Customs Office.

The case was made public earlier this week by a local newspaper’s coverage of the customs office’s year-end report.

The submachine gun matter is among five suspected smuggling cases using the mail the customs office discovered in 2005. Two of those cases involved the use of the U.S. military postal system.

Through a routine “random open package search,” said Osamu Fukuyama, regional customs office spokesman, a Japanese official who works at the Customs Port Service on Camp Foster found a cardboard box on March 15 that contained a dismantled submachine gun and 29 rounds of ammunition.

“Such discoveries are often made on a hunch of an experienced customs inspector,” he said.

He said the package was addressed to a post office box on Camp Foster.

“The sender is unknown,” Fukuyama said. “What we do know is that the package was sent from Iraq.”

Fukuyama would not elaborate on the recipient’s name or unit and declined to state whether the postal box’s owner was known to be expecting the package.

“An investigation is ongoing, including what relation there may between the sender and addressee,” he said.

Marines on Okinawa had no comment.

Fukuyama said the case was one of eight smuggling incidents the Okinawa customs office detected this year.

“Of them, the mail was used in five cases, including the two cases in which the military postal service system was used,” he said.

Items discovered in the packages included the firearm, marijuana and stimulant drugs, he said.

The other military postal system case involved the mailing of a pistol round to a post office box in June from the United States, Fukuyama said.

Fukuyama said the recipient in that case had no knowledge of the contents or origin of the package and no charges were filed.

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