NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – A Taiwanese man was sentenced in Okinawa to 25 years in prison and a ¥10 million ($91,000) fine Thursday for trying to smuggle 597 kg of stimulants into Japan in 2016.
“It was an organized and premeditated crime. The amount was enormous and the risk of it causing harm to Japan cannot be denied,” presiding Judge Yuichi Tada of the Naha District Court said in handing down the ruling.
It was Japan’s largest stimulants bust to date.
Lee Yu-ching, 45, “played a leading role” in the crime, Tada said, rejecting the defense team’s claim that he was innocent.
Prosecutors had sought a 30-year term and a ¥10 million fine.
According to the ruling, the stimulants, which had a street value of ¥42 billion, were transferred from a vessel of unknown nationality to a yacht crewed by Lee and other people, including two other Taiwanese men, in the East China Sea in May 2016. The yacht entered Naha port in Okinawa Prefecture with plans to import the stimulants to the country, the ruling said.
The two other Taiwanese men, who were charged with conspiring with Lee, were given 10-year prison terms and ¥5 million fines by the Naha District Court in November. The two have appealed the rulings.