back to article Japanese customs dish out free dope

Japanese customs have very agreeably handed out 142g of cannabis to an unwitting passenger at Tokyo's Narita airport during a drugs-busting test operation "went awry". According to the BBC, an operative planted the pot in the side pocket of a randomly-selected suitcase belonging to an innocent incoming passenger. The airport's …


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  1. Dean
    Thumb Up


    Cheers el reg, just what I needed to keep me going on this 'monday' morning

  2. Neil

    Bloody hell!!

    So the innocent guy gets drugs planted on him, doesn't notice them there and a few days later goes to Thailand, only to be stopped and chucked in a slum prison for the rest of his life. Which would be very short, as he'd probably be hanged for smuggling drugs.


  3. Anonymous Coward

    Find the recipient

    Is pretty easy. Just track the sales of Rizla's and Mars bars through the airport.....

    Mines the one with the chill-out CD in the pocket

  4. dervheid


    That's one helluva lump of gear. And the dog(s) couldn't find it?

    Dunno who's more useless, the guy or the dog(s).

    Chances of getting it back. close to zero, I'd guess.

    Let's face it, it's probably made somebody VERY happy. Maybe if they trawl the passenger lists and look for someone who's spending WAY more on grub than usual...

  5. hans

    Japanese Airports most popular (survey by P.Escobar)

    Mrs How Hai will contact customs after she returns earth.

  6. Cynic

    This could be the ultimate nightmare

    Imagine this happening to you in Indonesia or Thailand.. And then you get 20 year or life, because the official is too embarrased to own up.

    At least in this case the officer was up front. Might not happen in all cultures.


    (That is me checking my pockets for weed before going through customs..)

  7. Anonymous Coward


    was good shit, too.

  8. Steve

    @ 142g?

    I could have sniffed that out!

    Are they sure they bought a real dog and not a sheep?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me...

    ...of the time when ASIO (Australia's cross between MI5 and the Keystone cops) ran an exercise in which they placed explosives in a waste bin outside a Sydney hotel. Before they could "find" it, a garbage truck pulled up, the contents of the bin were compressed, and a fatal explosion resulted.

    Anonymous, because they are probably reading this.

  10. Anonymous Coward


  11. David Shepherd

    training for wrong target

    Maybe this shows that all the training on the dogs had done was to teach them to recognise the "standard dummy bag" and not cannabis at all!

    Reminds me of a story of a neural net system for the army designed to recognise tanks ... designers used lots of photos they took of a tank exercise on salisbury plane along with photos of the identical views without tanks taken the next day. After using these to train the neural net they were very happy with its accuracy ... until the tried to demo it "in the field" where it failed miserable. After analysis they eventually determined they'd trained the net to distniguish (with high degree of accuracy) between "sunny day" and "cloudy day"

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Why can't this sort of thing happen to me?

    ...the closest would be Dover customs giving me my cannabis and shrooms back after finding them.

    Re: previous comments - you would hope he had the sense to try it on someone coming in to Japan rather than leaving...

    Anon - <i>JIC</>

  13. Andy Silver badge

    Reg units

    142g indeed. By sheer coincidence that happens to be pretty much exactly five ounces. Or 40 eighths.


  14. John Donovan
    Paris Hilton

    Training for wrong target II

    Didn't the Russians train dogs to recognise tanks, and send them in with explosives strapped to them? The plan backfired when they realised they had trained them with Russian tanks...

    Paris, because she could sniff out 142g without being in the airport.

  15. John Macintyre

    @training for wrong target

    I was going to say, so these dogs only work on dummy bags, seems a bit pointless really

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    great a new excuse

    so when you get stopped, you just say it was obviously planted there to test security.

    along with "its medicinal" etc :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    So, what happens if the passengers luggage was automatically transferred onwards to say... Indonesia, Dubai, etc?

    They have the death penalty there for this kind of thing, and not a very sympathetic attitude to people pleading ignorant.

    Did the Japanese authorities want their drugs back before, or after, their victim is executed?

  18. Elmer Phud

    re:Reg units

    You'll need to specify the Reg units a bit more precisely as there are regional variations to take in to account.

    ie. is it an eighth you've got from a mate or regular retail outlet, an eighth from the bloke in the pub or an eighth from a street vendor? Any other variations such as quality or added artificial colourings, flavourings and thickeners are to be discounted as the mass is still supposed to be the same.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    It could have been worse

    From the "Government Interactions" section of the American Vacuum Society history at

    " This era has been relatively free of confrontations with the government but there was one “explosive” incident involving a former President, Paul Holloway, who was returning from a conference in Scotland via Amsterdam. All went well until he reached his final destination of Orlando, Florida. There he was met by his wife and found that his suitcase had been damaged. While complaining at the Northwest Airlines baggage counter, he opened the suitcase and found what “looked like two giant bars of ivory soap” which he had not packed! These turned out to be C-4 plastic explosives, the same material which had been used to destroy Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in 1988! The police were called and eventually Paul was cleared and allowed to go home. The C-4 had been placed in his case by the police in Amsterdam to test the security system, but they forgot to remove it! The Dutch Ministry of Justice later demanded an enquiry and the airport police in Amsterdam apologized profusely. Imagine if this had happened after September 11, 2001! The incident was described in the Mar/Apr 1991 issue of the Newsletter. "

    Paul Holloway is a professor at the University of Florida.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wrong kind of training

    as David Shepherd says, maybe they've trained the dogs to recognise suitcases not cannabis?

    A lot of this "sniffer dog" publicity stuff looks extremely dubious when looked at from an experimental science point of view rather than a "let's scare the occasional users" point of view...

  21. amanfromMars Silver badge

    The Green Room ? :-)

    Crikey.... Who would have thought it .....The El Reg XXXXPerienced Binary Tokers Corner :-)

  22. Wize

    Caught in another country?

    How are they going to catch you? Sniffer dogs?

    Mines the one that customs put a stash in.

  23. Andy Brown

    Sniffer dogs

    There was a case in England years ago where the local cops ran a training exercise for their sniffer dogs. They planted 12 small packages of explosives around a school at the weekend then set the dogs to find them.

    The dogs found 13 stashes...

  24. Anonymous John

    So smugglers will be smuggling cannabis in 142g packets from now on.

    It's not mine, honestly. The Japanese Customs must have used my bag for its test.

  25. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Re:Paul Holloway

    If it happened today, he'd be whisked off pronto to a secluded site where they'd hammer the truth out of him while the news would crow about how another terrist plot had been foiled.

    His wife would probably have been shot in the scuffle.

  26. Pooka
    Dead Vulture

    This'd never have happened in Heathrow...

    If this happened in T5 at least they'd be safe in the knowledge the supplies were still going around the building with the rest of the baggage!

    (Dead vulture after trying to get through all 142g in one afternoon)

  27. paul brain

    Is this the new definition of........

    Open source.

    FSF - The free shit foundation

    There is one happy and soon to be rich holiday maker.

    Although remember... Drugs are bad m'kay.

  28. David Pollard

    Must have been good gear

    The Times says it "has a street value of one million yen ($9,680)".

    ... also that the suitcase had been an incoming flight.

  29. Jamie

    I volunteer

    If they want to use real passengers and thier baggage then they can use mine and I will not complain as I only travel from Canada to the UK. And if I manage to get through customs without a full cavity search I will let you have your drugs back after a lttle cut and a big party.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @ Must have been good gear

    It must be that 'lethal new cannabis' that Gordon Brown keeps banging on about...

  31. VampyreWolf

    New phrase to learn

    how do you say "use my bag for a drug test" in different languages? I feel a world tour coming on... first stop, japan.

  32. Walter Brown

    Proper Weight Conversions

    For those of you having trouble converting the weight to more common standards understood around these parts...

    142g = 33.8095 Mili Jubs...

    Source =

    Mines the one with the chocolate finger prints all over it and the ZigZags in the pocket...

  33. Dr. E. Amweaver
    Paris Hilton

    us customs dogs...

    Went berzerk over my bag containing two pounds of oreo cookies and ignored Canadian fellow traveller's 142g.

    One Double Stuf caramel coated Paris, I think.

  34. Chris C


    After reading the comments to this point (last comment posted 27 May 19:30), I am truly disappointed and amazed at the lack of outrage. Most of the commenters here seem to think this is a big joke. I can assure you if the innocent person whose privacy was invaded is caught with this in their possession at their destination, they will be less than amused. Especially if their destination is a country where possession means life in prison or death. Virtually all "third world" countries, and even some "first world" countries (such as the US) wouldn't care about the circumstances of how the pot came to be in the person's possession, and wouldn't believe the stranger-than-fiction story of lax security operatives using innocent people's luggage for such tests or failure to retrieve their training materials. The "guilty" person will be immediately thrown in jail or executed. And all most of you commenters can do is make a joke about it, hoping that it happens to you. I hope this does happen to you, and then you can see how amusing it really is. It must be nice to be so ignorant as to believe "it won't happen to me".

  35. Argus Tuft
    Paris Hilton

    or looking at it another way...

    maybe there's a customs official who had a wild night and was trying to think of an excuse for how he 'lost' 142g of 'training samples'....

    [Paris 'cause she was probably at the party]

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Gives new meaning to...

    ....the GREEN CHANNEL....

    Mine's the one with the 6 bottles of cheap duty free in it.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely the sample will have been labelled "Property of Japanese Customs Bureau (Narita Airport office) Inventory number: 3567" so that if it was found by a non-doggy search it wouldn't get the traveller in trouble... So the Thai customs officials could phone up their Nip colleagues if they found it on some hapless tourist who hadn't checked every pocket of their case before travelling on from Japan.

    Or am I just being hopelessly naieve?

  38. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Every cloud has a silver lining

    "Virtually all "third world" countries, and even some "first world" countries (such as the US) wouldn't care about the circumstances of how the pot came to be in the person's possession, and wouldn't believe the stranger-than-fiction story of lax security operatives using innocent people's luggage for such tests or failure to retrieve their training materials."

    How very convenient then, Chris C, for the Register to have highlighted the Shenanigans that Administrations can Conceive to Entrap the Unwary and the Targetted alike.

    The questions asked at airports "Did you pack the bag yourself? Did you leave it unattended?" ......leaves all the time in the world for tampering behind the scenes whenever it is signed into airport control for their care and attention....... and as we have learnt, they can do pretty much just what they want to do and most probably frequently do too.

  39. multipharious
    Black Helicopters

    Invasion Tickets

    I used to save the little "Your bag has been upended" slips that TSA US Homeland Security used to deposit in my bag during their behind the scenes random examinations. These would be all conveniently where the security would find them when they opened my bag again to dig through with their rubber gloves that have been in countless other bags. Good thing their hands are clean...right? Honestly honey, I am not sure where these crabs came from!? Don't start me on the impending foot fungus epidemic from having to take shoes off thanks to that dumbass Richard Reid.

    I agree with the other comments that a heavy bag of dope surreptiously being placed is absolutely terrifying. I had a colleague that got stuck just recently due to (a reservation error) on a broken ticket where he had to collect his luggage and recheck it. Insert training excercise payload here. Onwards destination was UK, good thing transit was not in Japan...but like the rule of cockroaches if you see one there are more.

    All I can say I can say is cheers to the K-9 handler that owned up.

    On a more preventable level:

    To everyone else if you travel to any Middle East country, you might want to double check what they consider illegal drugs in their country. Some cold medicines qualify. Google it before travelling if you have any questions.

  40. Dr. E. Amweaver
    Black Helicopters

    @multipharious... talk about a job that stinks

    Definitely not taking the mickey out of anyone who has to inspect shoes for a living - particularly not ones that people have driven to the airport in or spent hours sweating in on a plane.

    Black Helicopter Line: now departing to Eastern Europe and Egypt from London City Airport. Book your next rendition now!

  41. Dr. E. Amweaver

    UPDATE: honesty prevails, hara-kiri not required

    "Japan Today reports that the passenger discovered a small metal box containing the cannabis tucked in a side compartment of his suitcase when he got to his hotel. The man called police who returned the cannabis to Narita airport", Japan Today said.

    US cops would have nicked him for possession anyway, even if self-reported...,23739,23765018-952,00.html

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    perhaps this is what happend

    Next time in Bali, claim that some customs officials put 4.1kg of dope in a boogy board bag... I'm sure that will be believed.

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