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The post office at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on Thursday, June 9, 2022.

The post office at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Frank Andrews/Stars and Stripes)

NAHA, Okinawa – A Japanese court on Friday sentenced a U.S. airman to three years in prison at hard labor and a $5,965 fine for attempting to smuggle cannabis into the country by mail.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Allen, 35, was indicted March 23 on a charge of violating Japan’s Cannabis Control Act and Customs Law, a spokeswoman for Naha District Public Prosecutors Office told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday.

Naha District Court this year has handed out several suspended sentences to Americans convicted of similar offenses. But Judge Tetsuro Sato, who sentenced Allen, said a suspended sentence is inappropriate in this case because he “played an important role” in arranging to have the package sent. Allen has 14 days to appeal.

Allen acted “for the purpose of profit,” but “his attempt was unsuccessful,” the prosecutor’s spokeswoman said. Some government officials in Japan customarily speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

Customs officers at Kadena Air Base intercepted the parcel Aug. 2 and found about 2 pounds of dried cannabis inside, according to the indictment. The parcel was sent from Oregon by an “unidentified individual” and arrived at Kadena on July 30.

Allen is assigned to Kadena’s 18 Civil Engineer Squadron, according to a statement from the 18th Wing to Stars and Stripes on Friday.

So far this year, four Marines were given suspended sentences in Naha District Court for unrelated but similar offenses involving lesser amounts of cannabis.

Lance Cpl. Victor Valdez, 20, received a three-year suspended sentence on May 9 for violating Japan’s Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act and Customs Law.

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.

A fifth Marine, Cpl. Nicholas Garner, received two years in prison with hard labor and a $4,344 fine.

Stars and Stripes reporter Frank Andrews contributed to this report.

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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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