Toyota sees its first top female executive accused of drug trafficking and arrested image

The world’s largest automaker, also Japan’s biggest company, Toyota Motor Corp. has entered crisis damage control after news broke out that its new communications leader, the first woman named senior executive, was arrested.

The American, its first ever woman named in a position of high importance within the company, has been arrested because she was suspected of illegally bringing pain killers into Japan. Julie Hamp, just two months after receiving the high-profile promotion, has been arrested after Japanese media reports on Friday quoted police sources saying the investigators found 57 highly addictive Oxycodone pills sent from the United States in a small parcel to Hamp – the contents were labeled “necklaces” and contained toy pendants and necklaces, besides the pills. According to a spokesperson for Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department, Hamap, a former GM and PepsiCo executive disclaimed herself saying she had no idea the substance was illegal.

According to a Toyota statement the company said it stood beside its executive and believed the subsequent Police investigation would show she had no desire to violate the law, with the automaker’s president Akio Toyoda scheduled to hold a media conference in Tokio later on Friday in the afternoon to discuss the arrest. Hamp, 55, took her new job in April as the carmaker aimed to diversify its male-dominated, mostly-Japanese executive ranks. According to Japanese criminal defense experts, the large number of pills would involve years of prison and deportation – the maximum sentence for smuggling drugs with intent to sell being life in prison. Even if Hamp was indicted just for personal use, the number of pills would make a suspended sentence hard to obtain.