Japan records second-largest drug seizure in 2023

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20th February 2024 – (Tokyo) Japanese officials are grappling with a significant uptick in narcotics interceptions, as figures released on Tuesday reveal a dramatic 79% increase in the volume of illegal substances seized in 2023. The country’s ports and airports have become focal points for these efforts, with authorities confiscating 2,406 kilograms of drugs, marking the second-largest haul on record, according to local media citing finance ministry data.

This surge in seizures represents a substantial escalation from the previous year, with the largest seizure still standing from the pre-pandemic era in 2019. This uptick comes despite a 22% decrease in drug trafficking cases, which totalled 815 in 2023, down from 2022.

A key factor in the heightened seizure rates appears to be the resurgence of air travel following the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. Passenger plane-related narcotic cases have seen an almost threefold increase, rising to 262 incidents. The rebound in global travel has evidently presented both opportunities and challenges for law enforcement agencies.

Highlighting the scale of the issue, a record-breaking single seizure occurred in 2023 when authorities discovered 704 kilograms of stimulants aboard a cargo vessel that docked in Tokyo Bay, originating from the United Arab Emirates.