Fugitive Yakuza Boss Arrested In Thailand After Full Body Tattoos Go Viral

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Thai police have apprehended a former Japanese organized crime member who is suspected in the murder of a gangster in Mie Prefecture 15 years ago, reports NHK (Jan. 11).

However, while Shirai confessed to being a gang-leader, he did not admit murdering his rival.

Japanese gang member Shigeharu Shirai displays his tattoos at a police station during a press conference in Lopburi, central Thailand.

His arrest apparently came after photos of him sitting around a checkers table were posted on Facebook in August past year by a Thai who was impressed by the man's tattoos.

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Investigators said Mr Shirai was a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi gang, a faction within Japan's yakuza.

"When I grow old, I want to be like him".

The photos were shared more than 10,000 times, catching the attention of the Japanese police who asked their Thai counterparts to arrest the man.

The man, identified as Shigeharu Shirai, is a high-ranking member of the Japanese mafia known as the Yakuza, and in addition to tattoos on his back and upper arms, the tip of his little finger gave away his status as a Japanese mobster.

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"The suspect has not confessed to murder but has admitted that the victim used to bully him", the Thai police spokesman added.

The Yakuza emerged in the chaos of post-war Japan turning into multi-billion-dollar criminal organisations involved in everything from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets and white-collar crime.

The mafia-like yakuza gangs first operated in the 17th century, stemming from street merchants and gamblers. Each group has its own headquarters, sometimes in full view of the police, who refer to them as b?ryokudan [violent groups].

Shirai reportedly fled to Thailand in 2005 and married a woman there, and the AP reports by way of police that Shirai was visited two or three times annually by cronies who provided him with cash. Shirai had tried to keep a low profile during his stay in Thailand, the police said.

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With no passport or visa, he was officially arrested for entering Thailand illegally and could be extradited to face prosecution in Japan as early as Friday.

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