Toyota Communications Chief Julie Hamp was arrested in Japan last Friday on charges that she tried to illegally smuggle pain killers into the country. The president of Toyota Motor Corp, Akio Toyoda, issued a public apology regarding the embarrassing ordeal, saying that Toyota does not believe its communications executive intentionally broke the law.
Akio Toyoda said in his statement, "To me, executives and staff who are my direct reports are like my children ... It's the responsibility of a parent to protect his children and, if a child causes problems, it's also a parent's responsibility to apologize."
Authorities Found 47 Oxycodone Pills
According to Japanese media, Hamp was arrested after it was discovered that a package sent to her from the United States, which had been marked "necklaces" contained 47 Oxycodone pills. The pills had been hidden in small packets and concealed in the bottom of the packaging. Although the parcel did contain toy necklaces and pendants, Japanese officials claimed that the undisclosed pills were being brought into the country illegally.
However, Hamp told Japanese police that she was unaware the substances were illegal. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp expressed its regret that it had failed to give sufficient support to its foreign employee who was not familiar with Japanese customs and laws. The woman was hired by Toyota only about two months prior to the date of the arrest.
Could Face a Maximum Sentence of Life in Prison
According to Japanese law, Oxycodone is a regulated pharmaceutical, which can only be taken or possessed with a proper prescription -- just like in the United States. Furthermore, prior government approval is required by anyone who wishes to bring the drug into the country. According to a Japanese criminal defense attorney who commented on the case, if Hamp is ultimately indicted in this case, she could be sentenced to years in prison due to the large quantity of pills involved. In fact, he said that the maximum sentence for criminal drug smuggling in Japan is life in prison. He further indicated that it would be hard to get her sentence suspended if she is indicted because of the number of pills involved.
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