Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/28/japanese_stash_returned/

Japanese customs reunited with lost dope

Passenger hands over surprise stash

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 28th May 2008 14:54 GMT

Japanese customs have been reunited with the 142g of cannabis they mislaid at Tokyo's Narita airport during a drugs-busting test operation, Japan Today reports.

The stash had been placed by an officer in the side pocket of a randomly-selected suitcase belonging to an innocent incoming passenger on Sunday's Flight 520 from Hong Kong, and the airport's drug-sniffing mutts were supposed to close in on the pot.

However, they failed to track their narcotic target, and since the customs operative "could not remember which bag he had put it in", the gear went walkabout with the case's owner.

The unwitting drugs mule later checked into his hotel and "discovered a small metal box containing cannabis worth 1 million yen tucked in a side compartment of his suitcase". He called the police, who returned the marijuana to customs.

The officer responsible for the cock-up reportedly broke rules by targeting a real piece of luggage for the test instead of the standard dummy bag. He said: "I knew that using passengers' bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog's ability. The dogs have always been able to find it before... I became overconfident that it would work."

The airport's customs chief, Manpei Tanaka, offered: "This case was extremely regrettable. I would like to deeply apologise."

Rather ominously for both of the above, Japan Today is currently running a poll on its front page asking readers: "Do you think suicide is an honorable way to atone for a crime or scandal?" ®