A record 400 kilograms of cocaine was seized by customs authorities in October at Kobe port, western Japan, investigative sources said Thursday.
The latest seizure, with an estimated street value of 8 billion yen ($73 million), more than doubles the previous record set in a 177kg haul at Mikawa port in central Japan in August.
Local customs authorities and police believe someone tried to smuggle the cocaine from overseas by ship. The drug was found in shipping containers at the port, the sources said.
The smugglers may have sent the cocaine to Kobe by mistake, possibly intending to deliver it to some other destination, the sources said without providing details.
[Photo shows seized 177 kg of cocaine at Mikawa port of Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture. Photo was taken on Sept. 27, 2019. Photo for latest cocaine haul at Kobe port is not available]
According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry data, law enforcement authorities took action against 217 individuals last year in connection with cocaine-related charges, the highest number on record.
The ministry has acknowledged that annual number of cocaine cases has been rising over the past several years.
Crime syndicate groups typically associated with the yakuza are said to profit from smuggling drugs including cocaine. Some celebrities in Japan have been convicted of using cocaine and other illegal drugs.
In June, the Tokyo District Court gave Pierre Taki, an actor and member of the Japanese techno-pop duo Denki Groove, 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, for using cocaine.