A Vancouver musician could be facing serious jail time in Japan after being accused of trying to smuggle almost 10 kilograms of drugs into the country.
Daniel Whitmore, 44, was arrested on Dec. 11 at Narita International Airport for allegedly smuggling stimulant drugs with a street value of more than $7 million. The drugs were allegedly concealed in a guitar case and tea canisters.
Whitmore was the lead singer of Powerclown, an Iron Maiden tribute band whose members wear clown makeup. He performed under the stage name Dicksee Diànno, a tribute to original Iron Maiden lead singer Paul Di’Anno. He also performed under the name Dan Scum.
When news broke of a major drug bust in Japan involving a Canadian, Whitmore’s friends began to worry.
“I don’t know why he would’ve thought this was an option for anything,” friend Joseph Lambert said. “I mean, he could have always asked for help.”
Days before his flight from Vancouver, a message on his Facebook page said: “Are you an Asian drug dealer? Because you’re bringing me down…”
“I think somebody told him he had to do it because this does not seem like Dan,” Lambert said.
“I’ve seen Dan desperate for money. Nothing like this. This is not desperate for money, this is something else.”
Whitmore’s Powerclown bandmates are not condoning his alleged actions.
“I assure you, any frowns we are wearing are real. Painted on or not. All we can do is hope for the best for him,” lead guitarist Sketchy Klown said in a statement. “Clownery and parlour tricks, whether by him or us ain’t gonna do no good.
“Even with his voice, the voice of a songbird, and his velvet-painting-smooth charm, he won’t be able to talk his way out of these hijinks, even if he did speak Japanese.
“While none of us clowns condone Dicksee’s actions, or recommend anyone else attempting something this foolish, we do hope for the best for our grease-painted pal.”
Global Affairs Canada said they are aware of the arrest.
Vancouver-based lawyer Michael Klein thinks it’s unlikely the Canadian government would get involved with a “foreign prosecution.”
“It’s not really an extradition case at all,” he said.
Japan has zero-tolerance for drug offences. Convictions in similar cases have come with prison sentences of 10 years or more and hefty fines.
“It’s almost like he’s dead now except he’s not,” Lambert said. “I’m not going to think that because that’s giving up hope.”