A 26-year-old American woman has been jailed on drug smuggling charges in Japan after her mother mailed her a three-month refill of her Adderall prescription, her family says.
Carrie Russell, a graduate from Western Oregon University, was reportedly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at age 7. She is now jailed outside of Nagoya after her friends witnessed five plain-clothed police officers arrest her Feb. 20 at a restaurant in Tokyo, nearly 300 miles away, the Oregonian reported.
Her adoptive parents, John and Jill Russell, learned of the arrest the next day from their daughter’s friends. It took U.S. diplomats 24 hours to locate her, because the National Police Agency hadn’t notified the embassy of her arrest, a step typically taken when Japanese police detain an American, the Oregonian reported.
“We’re left in a state of disbelief,” Mr. Russell told the paper. “We would never imagine something like this to assault us from a civilized country like Japan.”
Jill Russell, a Hillsboro physician, said she had shipped the Adderall refill to her daughter, who lived in South Korea at the time. Her daughter then shipped the medication to Nagoya, where she planned to teach English in the coming weeks, the Oregonian reported.
Jill Russell said she packed the generic pills in an old Tylenol bottle, instead of their original prescription bottle, in an effort to fool potential thieves. Mental disorders also carry a stigma in Japan, so the mother said she was trying to protect her daughter’s reputation by keeping the pills unmarked, the Oregonian reported.
“My repackaging was not an attempt to break or circumvent the law,” Jill Russell reportedly wrote in a sworn affidavit sent Feb. 25 to Japanese police. “It was intended to preserve Carrie’s privacy and dignity around a sensitive issue regarding medication to treat a disorder which falls under the area of mental health.”
Carrie Russell reportedly remains in jail on suspicion of smuggling amphetamines into Japan. She can be detained for as many as 23 days without being charged and could be sentenced to years in prison if found guilty, the Oregonian reported.
Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, are working to secure Carrie Russell’s release, but diplomatic efforts so far have failed, the Oregonian reported. A U.S. consular official and a Nagoya lawyer, hired by family members, told the family that Carrie Russell has been held in solitary confinement and subjected to numerous interrogations, the paper said.
Though routinely prescribed by U.S. doctors for attention deficit disorder, Adderall, or any medicine containing methamphetamine or amphetamine is strictly forbidden from being brought into Japan.
“If you are found with any medicine containing methamphetamine or amphetamine illegally in Japan, you can be arrested as a criminal on the spot, immediately, without a warrant in principle,” reads a clause on restrictions on the Consulate General of Japan’s Website in Seattle, the Oregonian reported.