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Acquittal in a drug smuggling case with blind mule defense

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Ms. A, then-22-years-old, was approached by a self-proclaimed “businessman”. He asked Ms. A, “Why don’t you travel Hong Kong for free?” “I’m going to launch a new brand, so I want you to see a person in charge of the business to receive documents for me.” Ms. A readily accepted the offer, believing that she could travel Hong Kong for free and get some money in exchange for just receiving documents. She took the overseas trip for the first time in her life and enjoyed shopping in Hong Kong. However, when she landed at Haneda International Airport and had custom inspection, her life has drastically changed. The inspector found a large amount of stimulant drug (kakuseizai) in a can that a local guide gave her as a gift to the “businessman.”

This case is one of the typical cases where an international smuggling organization targeted a young woman to use her as a carrier of stimulant drugs while she was ignorant about the content. Their trick is very sophisticated. They approach girls in early twenties who have never experienced overseas trips, persuade such young girls, and offer them to travel for free to foreign countries such as Hong Kong and Macau. When the girls arrive at the destination, a “local guide” accompanies the girls and has them buy souvenirs in local markets. Then, some accomplices of the smuggling organization replace that souvenir with drugs while the girls are unaware when they have meals, for example.

In the trial for Ms. A, we explained the trick of the smuggling organization. We found and visited a grocery store, which strongly supported our client’s claim. We offered a former FBI investigator in the U.S. as an expert witness, who testified the reality of how smuggling organizations used blind mules. The prosecutor claimed Ms. A’s conviction and requested the sentence of 12 years in prison. However, the court found her not guilty. The case was affirmed without the prosecutor’s appeal.

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