Authorities confiscated dangerous narcotic-like drugs worth some ¥3 billion, one of the largest seized amounts in the country, as they busted a production site operated by alleged traffickers.

The Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare’s Narcotics Control Department arrested eight members of the group, aged between 23 and 76, on suspicion of possessing and selling narcotic-like drugs through the internet.

Among the arrested was group leader Manabu Iwamura, 50, of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. He has told investigators that the group started making and selling the drugs about three years ago, with about ¥30 million in monthly sales.

Iwamura is alleged to have sold drugs to a man from Kyoto Prefecture in June and possessed them in a house in Kawasaki in September. The department searched the house in September and seized some 180 kg of drugs, 1.6 tons of herbs that can be used to make such drugs, and related devices, including agitating and centrifugal machines.

Iwamura had previously distributed such drugs to retail shops, the authorities said.

After launching a website for trafficking the drugs in 2014, he hired people to work for the operation at the Kawasaki house. Customers were asked to pay using bitcoin.

The group is suspected of having sold drugs worth nearly ¥1 billion to over 5,000 people across Japan.

The department is investigating the flow of funds and other details of the case, eyeing the possibility that other trafficking groups may be involved.

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