The post office at Camp Kinser, Okinawa, is pictured Oct. 6, 2021.

The post office at Camp Kinser, Okinawa, is pictured Oct. 6, 2021. (Stars and Stripes)

NAHA, Okinawa — A U.S. Marine on Okinawa received an 18-month suspended sentence Tuesday after he was caught attempting to smuggle a small amount of LSD into the country through the military mail system.

Lance Cpl. Jorge Pavacantillo, 23, of Camp Hansen, pleaded guilty Nov. 17 in Naha District Court to violating Japan’s Narcotics and Psychotropics Control and Customs Acts, District Court Judge Hironobu Ono said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Pavacantillo was flagged by a Japanese customs agent on April 5 after 1.18 grams of paper containing lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, was found in a package shipped to him from the United States, according to the charge sheet provided by the prosecutors’ office.

“You are found guilty of the charge,” Ono said as he passed sentence.

Pavacantillo, a dual U.S. and Colombian citizen, is an engineer equipment operator with the 3rd Marine Logistics Group. He joined the Marines in January 2020 and arrived on Okinawa 11 months later.

Authorities found the LSD during a routine inspection at Camp Kinser, Ono said. The powerful synthetic hallucinogen had been soaked into three pieces of paper and placed into a box of playing cards.

The package, mailed from an unnamed person, was addressed to Pavacantillo, the charge sheet said. It arrived at Tokyo International Airport in Haneda on April 3 and at Kinser the next day.

Pavacantillo was indicted Sept. 27. At trial, he said the drug was for his personal use.

“I am deeply sorry for what I did,” he told the three-judge panel on Nov. 17.

Prosecutors sought 1 ½ years in prison to teach him a “sense of respect for rules.” The Marine’s attorney, Tetsu Amakata, requested a suspended sentence.

Ono suspended Pavacantillo’s sentence and hard labor for three years, meaning he will likely not serve jail time unless convicted again in Japan. The panel showed leniency because Pavacantillo admitted guilt and had no prior criminal record, Ono said.

Pavacantillo does not plan to appeal the sentence, Amakata said after the hearing, which lasted about 10 minutes.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Grafenwoehr, Germany, for Stars and Stripes since 2024. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Okinawa, Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the news organization. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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