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NAHA, Okinawa — A 20-year-old sailor pleaded guilty Tuesday in Naha General District Court to smuggling hallucinatory mushrooms into Japan through the mail.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Trent Riley, a corpsman assigned to Camp Hansen, was arrested by Okinawa police on Jan. 15 as a package containing 50.5 grams of mushrooms containing psilocybin, a psychoactive compound, was delivered to his home in the Murokawa district of Okinawa city.

Riley admitted during a two-hour session that he ordered the mushrooms from the Netherlands over the Internet.

He said he had planned to take the mushrooms with his wife to “have fun” before his scheduled deployment to Iraq in April.

“I was worried about spending a year away from my wife and possibly not coming back,” he told the three-judge panel hearing the case. He had been married just more than six months when he was arrested.

His wife testified that she had no knowledge her husband had ordered the psychedelic fungi.

Riley, from Florida, said that despite briefings from his command that using the mushrooms was illegal, he had heard from friends that they were not prohibited and were sold openly in Japan. He said he did not realize the Japanese law had changed in 2002.

He added that he did not become suspicious when the Netherlands company that sold him the mushrooms for $329 sent him an e-mail stating that because the Japanese customs agency was strict the package would be labeled as a T-shirt.

Prosecutor Daisuke Tabuchi did not accept Riley’s ignorance of the law, calling the sailor’s statements “illogical.”

“He was going to spread this evil drug in our country,” he said. “Therefore, his act was vicious. It’s difficult to accept that he did not know magic mushrooms were illegal.”

He asked for a sentence of two years and six months in prison at hard labor.

Defense attorney Satoshi Kawamitsu asked that any prison time be suspended and Riley, who faces discharge from the Navy upon release from custody, be allowed to return to the United States to finish his education. He said Riley has no prior criminal record.

Riley, who remains in custody in the Naha Detention Center, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to 30 million yen (about $250,000). He will be sentenced April 17.

According to prosecution evidence, the mushrooms were discovered when the package arrived at Narita International Airport on Jan. 8. Customs agents then alerted Okinawa police and arranged the bust as the package was delivered to Riley.

In June 2002, Japan listed hallucinogenic mushrooms, popularly known by users as “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms,” as a controlled substance, making the use, sale, possession, growing and advertising of the mushrooms illegal under the country’s Narcotic and Psychotropic Drug Control Law. There are more than 180 species of mushrooms that contain varying traces of psychedelics.

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