AI Cyber Patrol to Crack Down on Drug Trafficking Using Social Media

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Confiscated stimulant drugs are shown at the Osaka prefectural police station.

The government plans to strengthen measures against drug trafficking using social media to stop the influx of drugs from overseas, according to a draft of the government’s strategy for drug abuse prevention, it was learned on Saturday.

The government’s strategy for drug abuse prevention has been compiled every five years since the first draft in 1998.

The sixth five-year drug abuse prevention strategy, which will be implemented this year, is scheduled to be officially approved as early as August by the Council for Promoting Measures to Prevent Drug Abuse. The council chaired by Katsunobu Kato comprises National Public Safety Commission chief, Justice Minister and other relevant Cabinet ministers.

The draft of the latest strategy has identified five important items, including strengthening the crackdown on drug trafficking through cyberspace and enhancing measures to cope with the increase in the number of people traveling to and from Japan.

Citing an increase in the number of cannabis abusers, especially among young people, the draft also includes comprehensive measures against it.

The draft states that “an increase in the use of new technologies is expected.” It says cases of “dark” part-time jobs, in which drug smugglers are recruited on social media without meeting face to face, have recently been confirmed.

In addition to collecting information on drug trafficking through cyber patrols on social media using artificial intelligence, the draft states that cyber investigations will be conducted to eradicate drug trafficking organizations that use cyberspace.

The draft also notes an expected increase in the risk of regulated drugs being brought into Japan and smuggled by overseas travelers due to the relaxation of border control against COVID-19 and an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan as a result. To prevent drugs from being brought into Japan, the draft proposes that information about regulated drugs in Japan be disseminated to other countries in multiple languages.

As a border control measure, the draft states that the monitoring system at sea and ports will be strengthened. Based on information obtained though the system, smuggling methods will be analyzed and the information sharing system with international organizations such as the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime will be strengthened, according to the draft.