U.S. civilian on Okinawa pleads guilty to marijuana-smuggling charge
NAHA, Okinawa — A Japanese prosecutor sought a 30-month prison term on Friday for a 24-year-old former Marine Corps Community Services employee who pleaded guilty to smuggling marijuana through the Japanese postal system.
Tommy Gaskin Jr., the husband of an Air Force servicemember stationed on Kadena Air Base, hung his head and heaved a sigh as he listened to prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake tell the presiding judge that he played a leading role in smuggling 96.305 grams, about 3.37 ounces, of marijuana into Okinawa from the United States.
He said Gaskin conspired with a former co-worker, Rick Ragsdale, who was tried separately. He pleaded guilty in June and is scheduled back in court Monday.
“The amount of marijuana he attempted to smuggle was great,” Satake said, noting that Gaskin concealed the marijuana in a stuffed animal. “The scheme was sophisticated and malicious. I ask for a strict punishment.”
Gaskin pleaded guilty to the charge of violating Japan’s marijuana control and customs laws.
On March 14, according to Satake, Gaskin arranged to have the marijuana, concealed in a teddy bear, mailed to Ragsdale at his post office box in Okinawa City. Japanese customs officers in Yokohama detected the illegal substance in the parcel shipped by sea on April 25.
Gaskin has been detained in the Naha Detention Center since his indictment June 18.
During the introduction of evidence, Satake showed Gaskin two zip-locked plastic bags.
“What is this green stuff?” Satake asked in Japanese.
“Marijuana,” said Gaskin, who stood awkwardly behind the witness podium as a translator relayed the question in English.
“Are these yours?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes, they are mine,” Gaskin confessed.
“I am not addicted to any sort of narcotics,” Gaskin later said, claiming he smoked marijuana just to look “cool.”
“I feel ashamed of being involving in this incident, and I am ashamed for not being the good husband and father that I should be. I am definitely sorry for what I have done.”
Gaskin’s defense attorney, Satoshi Kawamitsu, asked the judge to suspend any sentence.
“He expresses deep remorse and he pledged that he would never repeat the mistake again,” Kawamitsu said. “Instead of confining him in a correctional facility, I ask the court to give him a chance to rehabilitate himself in the community.”
Sentencing is set for Aug. 6.