Tokyo: Japanese police have put former Greens candidate Donna Nelson under a three-month access ban, restricting her contact with family and visitors as they investigate drug trafficking charges and her links to a syndicate believed to be behind the operation.
The Indigenous leader was arrested at Narita airport near Tokyo in January where she was allegedly found with up to two kilograms of drugs stashed inside a bag.
West Australian woman and Aboriginal community leader Donna Nelson.
Japanese police rarely place access bans on travellers arrested at airports but the volume of stimulants being carried by Nelson forced authorities to limit her contact with friends and family. The only person who will be able to see the 56-year-old for the next three months is her court-appointed lawyer, whom Japanese authorities have declined to identify.
Nelson’s family claim the Ballardong Njaki-Njaki woman was groomed and duped by a Nigerian love scammer known as Kelly for two years before she was arrested on January 4. The grandmother was offered an all-expenses-paid business class trip to Japan via Singapore, Vietnam, and Laos by Kelly who she had met on a dating app.
The family believes Nelson, a 2022 West Australian Greens candidate, and Aboriginal health advocate, was either forced or tricked into carrying the bag, which she had not packed in her luggage before leaving Australia. The drugs are believed to have been picked up during her stay in Laos.
“One of the hardest things for me when I found out that she was detained was imagining how she must have felt when she realised that this person didn’t love her,” Nelson’s daughter Kristal Hilaire said last week. “How she must have felt when her heart broke.”
The Aboriginal health advocate was believed to have been held at Narita Immigration detention centre until she was charged with drug trafficking on Monday. When The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age visited the centre in an industrial area 70 kilometres outside Tokyo this week, immigration officials declined to comment on her location or wellbeing, saying it was a matter for the police.
Nelson’s daughters said her lawyer said last week that she was in good spirits, had access to medication and good food and had been able to exercise.
Japanese police who were not authorised to speak publicly confirmed the access ban had been implemented as they investigate the gang behind the importation of the stimulants.
Authorities have been grappling with syndicates operating in Tokyo after a spate of drink spiking that has fleeced foreigners of thousands of dollars in cash. Some have been linked to Nigerian criminal enterprises as rival gangs move in on territory historically controlled by the Yakuza.
Nelson’s family has been contacted for comment.
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