Suspected yakuza leader arrested here

POLICE  arrested a Japanese man suspected to be a leader of a yakuza gang who killed a fellow gang member and fled to Thailand over 10 years ago but he has denied the charges leveled against him, INN News reported today (Jan. 11).

However because the suspect, Mr Shikeharu Shirei, 72, does not have papers to verify his entry into Thailand nor any personal documents, police are proceeding with an immigration case against him.

Police said the suspect, who was arrested in central Lopburi province yesterday, is a leader of Kodo-kai network within Yamaguchi-gumi, which the Japan’s number 1 gang, and fled to Thailand in 2006 after killing a fellow gangster in 2004.

Yamaguchi-gumi has over 20,000 active members while Kodo-kai around 2,000, with the latter being involved in all kinds of gambling in Japan.

Investigation showed this gang has influence in Thailand too, and has been involved in illegal activities such as money laundering, operating call centers plus human trafficking, and uses Asians as their proxies and nominees.

According to Wikipedia, The Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi is Japan’s largest yakuza organization. It is named after its founder Harukichi Yamaguchi. Its origins can be traced back to a loose labor union for dockworkers in Kobe before World War II.

It is one of the largest criminal organizations in the world. According to the National Police Agency, it had 20,400 active members and 18,600 associated members in 2007.It is, by far, the largest of the boryokudan groups, and its membership encompasses roughly 45% of the 86,300 yakuza in the Japanese underworld. Leading members of the Yamaguchi-gumi number 102 people in total; 1 kumichō (組長; boss), 15 shatei (舎弟; younger brother) and 86 wakachū (若中; child) as of November 2005.

The Yamaguchi-gumi are among the world’s wealthiest gangsters, bringing in billions of dollars a year from extortion, gambling, the sex industry, arms trafficking, drug trafficking, real estate and construction kickback schemes. They are also involved in stock market manipulation and Internet pornography.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has its headquarters in Kobe, but it operates all across Japan and has overseas operations in the rest of Asia and the United States. Its current kumicho (Boss), Shinobu Tsukasa, has declared an expansionist policy—even making inroads into Tokyo, traditionally not Yamaguchi turf. They also have multiple groups working overseas.


Top: The suspect’s large tattoo covering his back. Photo: INN News