Japanese gun-runner in the U.S. on the lam

Kyodo

A Japanese national accused of illegally exporting firearms to Japan has skipped bail and is believed to be on the run, an official of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon in Portland said Thursday.

Kozo Wada, a 45-year-old legal resident of the United States, did not appear for his sentencing hearing scheduled for Thursday at the U.S. district court in Portland, Ore., and was issued a fresh arrest warrant.

Wada, who operates a gun shop, faces charges of obtaining about 120 firearms without a federal firearms license and of exporting them to Japan without a Department of State license.

According to the prosecutor and Wada’s lawyer, Wada was expected to be handed a prison sentence at Thursday’s hearing. However, because there was a detention period without a conviction, he would have been released and deported to Japan, where he would have been arrested by Japanese police on arrival.

He is thought to have gone on the run to avoid being picked up in Japan, where he would expect to face tougher criminal charges given that Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.

Following his arrest last year, Wada was out on bail on condition that he surrender his passport and two cars, and that he remain within a designated area. His attorney had responsibility for managing his finances and other assets.

Until Thursday, he had never missed a court appearance. He was last seen by a pretrial services officer and his attorney on Wednesday.