HYOGO (TR) – Hyogo Prefectural Police have seized about 1,600 marijuana plants during the bust of a growing operation conducted in four locations in the prefecture, reports NHK (May 18).
Last October, officers seized the roughly 1,600 plants and 16 kilograms of marijuana from four residences and storage areas in Sanda, Nishinomiya and Ashiya cities.
Police also arrested 33-year-old Takashi Hirohide, who lives in Nishinomiya and four male accomplices, aged between 30 and 36.
The suspects are alleged to have cultivated the plants for the purpose of sale between September 2019 and last October.
“I cultivated [the plants] to repay debt,” Hirohide told police in admitting the the allegations. The other suspects also admit to the allegations, police said.
Hirohide is believed to be the ringleader. Police believe that the ring racked up sales totaling around 200 million yen. Customers were found via word of mouth.
The raids of the locations were conducted based on anonymous tips. The seizure of 1,600 plants is the most on record, police said.
Last year, police arrested 299 persons for possession or distribution of marijuana, the most on record. In 2012, the figure was 69.
In breaking down last year’s number, 227 were under the age of 30. “Since it is easy to obtain illegal drugs through social media, we would like to intensify enforcement and make a call out for prevention of illegal drug abuse,” a representative of the Hyogo Prefectural Police said.