Japan's Biggest Website, Awash in Illegal Drugs

Drugs, and drug culture, are common and prevalent in much of the West. Ditto for Japan, even if superficially the country seems immune to such devices. It's not.

Sometimes buying drugs in Japan is as easy as walking up to someone standing on a corner in Tokyo's Roppongi. Sometimes, it's far more complex, say, if you are in some bumblefuck town or a boring suburb. Enter the internet.

Twenty-year-old Ryuji Ota and 9 other accomplices set up a drug trafficking ring on 2channel, the country's largest bulletin board. Westerners are perhaps familiar with 4chan, which was inspired by Japan's Futaba Channel (2chan.net), which was created during looming threats of a 2channel shutdown.

2channel, or 2ch, is more than a source for leaked Japanese game magazines. The site's slogan is "From hacking to dinner side dishes." Add illegal drugs, apparently.

"There was no work after the earthquake."

Kanagawa Prefectural cops arrested Ryuji Ota, 20, and nine others for supposedly trafficking in illegal stimulants. This past Oct., Japan's Sankei Newspaper reported, Ota and his accomplices apparently sold 0.05 grams of an illegal stimulant (the paper did not specify) to a 39-year-old male in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa for ¥5,000 (US$64)

Using a coded lingo for its online business dealings, the group apparently sold drugs via 2ch. According to the report, the group sold drugs to 4,500 individuals between Apr. and Nov. of this year, with proceeds totaling ¥110,000,000 or $1.4 million.

There was even apparently a manual confiscated by the police that the group used in dealing with and selling to customers.

This is the largest organized online drug bust in Japanese history.

Many of the group's members were born in Miyagi Prefecture. In a sworn affidavit, the motive given was: "There was no work after the earthquake."

With rural areas of the country either slowly recovering or not at all after the March 11 quake, and industry sectors being hollowed out and moved overseas due to the stubbornly strong yen, this excuse will continue to ring out for years to come.

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