Tokyo metropolitan police officers on Tuesday conducted their first search and seizure investigation for "dangerous drugs" -- the term given to quasi-legal hallucinogenic herbs -- at stores in three wards of the city.
Four stores in Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Shimbashi were searched for the drugs, NTV reported. Although such searches have been conducted before as joint operations by police and Tokyo government health officials, recent revisions to the law now allow for police to conduct the investigations independently.
The number of crimes related to the so-called “dangerous drugs” last year was five times higher than in 2013, the National Police Agency said in a year-end report in December. According to the NPA report, from Jan 1 to Nov 30, there were 622 cases involving either the use and or possession of “dangerous drugs,” while drug-related arrests were 725.
The NPA report also said 111 people died due to drug-related complications or due to accidents caused by drivers high on the herbs.
Following Tuesday's raids, stores selling the herbs were ordered to cease all sales of the drugs. According to the police, as of July last year, there were 68 shops within the metropolitan area known to be selling the herbs.
Law enforcement officials acknowledged, however, that the wider problem of online sales of such herbs remains.© Japan Today