Customs gives passenger free hashish

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    Drug dogs at Narita failed to locate drugs planted in a bag by customs police, and a passenger ended up walking away with some free hashish:

    NARITA — Customs officials have lost 124 grams of hashish they planted in an unknowing traveler’s luggage to train drug sniffing dogs, the head of Narita Customs said Monday.

    Customs officials are banned from using travelers’ luggage for training practices, but one worker said it was common practice.

    “We want to improve the sniffer dogs’ ability, so we have practiced this way several times in the past,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

    Manpei Tanaka, head of Customs’ Narita branch, apologized for the incident.

    “It’s extremely regrettable that we have invited this sort of situation on ourselves. We will investigate the facts behind the case, provide thorough training and deal strictly with those involved,” Tanaka said.

    Customs said the hash was stored in a metal container stuffed into the pocket of a soft, black suitcase belonging to one of 283 passengers traveling on Cathay Pacific Flight 520 from Hong Kong to Narita, which arrived at 3:31 p.m. on Sunday. The owner of the suitcase is unknown and passengers were not informed that their luggage would be used to train the drug-seeking dogs.

    Police are now attempting to contact passengers who were on the flight.

    Update: Police successfully located the passenger, who had been staying at a hotel in Tokyo. The passenger had been unaware of the drugs, which have now been returned to Japanese authorities. (Link updated with a credible source.)

    The South China Morning Post has a cartoon about the incident:

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