BANGKOK – Japanese National Yutaka Itakurahas been arrested in Thailand for possessing more than 2 kilograms of an illegal stimulant drug and an unauthorized automatic gun, while three others were apprehended for trying to bribe the police into releasing him, Thai police said Saturday.
Yutaka Itakura, 34, was arrested in Bangkok on Friday with around 2.3 kg of methamphetamine that he tried to sell to an undercover agent working for the police. The police also found money worth more than $30,000 in his room.
During police interrogation, Itakura offered a 3-million-baht bribe in return for his release.
The three other men were arrested when they came to pay one million baht to the police.
Itakura has been charged with possessing illicit drugs with intent to sell, selling illegal drugs, possessing an unregistered gun and trying to bribe police officers. He could face the death penalty if found guilty of the drug-related charges.
He is believed to have links with a Japanese gang that runs a drug business in Thailand and is also suspected of using Thai women to transport drugs abroad.
The Thai police are coordinating with their Japanese counterparts in an investigation to learn how Itakura came to possess the drugs.
The four accused, aged between 34 and 50, were arrested on Friday after a tip-off that one of the group was smuggling drugs out of Thailand.
Thailand is a known gateway to the lucrative Southeast Asian drugs market.
Seizures of “ice,” a form of methamphetamine, have quadrupled across the Asia-Pacific region over five years, the United Nations said in May.
Much of the increase is down to an explosion in production of the usually less pure methamphetamine-laced tablets, known in parts of Asia as “yaba.”