Thursday, August 11

Alleged Marijuana Trafficker Operated From Storage Units

A California man was arrested in North Carolina last week after law enforcement found over 30 pounds of marijuana hidden in self-storage units across the state. Takaaki Ishibashi was arrested on January 16th and is being held on $2 million bond.

The ordeal began on January 13th, when agents from the Homeland Security Investigations Task Force intercepted a package en route to a storage unit in Mooresville, North Carolina. The package was addressed to a Nathan Yong, of Dallas, with a return address of Long Beach, California. It contained approximately seven pounds of marijuana sealed inside metal cans. The mailing information was found to be incorrect, and investigators were unable to identify a suspect from the information. An additional 3.5 pounds of marijuana were seized from the storage unit that was the package’s destination.

The next day, another package bearing the same mailing information was intercepted on its way to the same storage unit. The second package contained eight pounds of marijuana. On January 16th, investigators received a tip that “Nathan Yong” was at the Mooresville storage unit. Police followed “Yong” to a second self storage unit in Concord. Once he left, police initiated a traffic stop, where “Yong” was identified as Takaaki Ishibashi and arrested.

From additional storage unit keys found in Ishibashi’s vehicle, investigators were able to obtain search warrants for self storage units in Concord, Cornelius, Huntersville, Pineville, and Kannapolis. Drug paraphernalia and an additional 31 pounds of marijuana were recovered from those units. Ishibashi will be charged with trafficking marijuana and conspiracy to traffic marijuana pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Self storage is a growing industry, especially in the United States. Of the 58,000 storage facilities located worldwide in 2009, just 12,000 were located outside the United States. While storing drugs is both illegal in the U.S. and against the policy of most self-storage facilities, it is not uncommon. In fact, police departments often take drug-sniffing dogs to self-storage facilities for training.

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