Over in Japan, the yakuza rules the criminal underworld. Yakuza gang members are usually identifiable by their elaborate tattoos and a missing tip of the little finger. The tattoos proved to be the downfall of 74-year-old Yamaguchi-gumi gangster Shigeharu Shirai. He has been on the run near Bangkok for the past decade for a murder that he allegedly committed and was recently arrested.
According to the Associated Press:
His arrest apparently came after photos of him sitting around a checkers table were posted on Facebook in August last year by a Thai who was impressed by the man’s tattoos. The post was shared over 10,000 times and some users identified the former gang member.
According to Police Gen. Wirachai Songmetta, Shirai was visited on multiple occasions by Japanese associates. Each time, the fugitive gangster was gifted with cash. He has been living near Bangkok with a Thai wife and managed to lay low for the past ten years.
Shirai was wanted, along with others, for the murder of Kazuhiko Otobe 15 years ago. Shirai and Otobe were both on rival factions of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s most dominant yakuza syndicate.
The AP detailed the yakuza:
According to the National Police Agency, 22 organizations were designated as organized crime groups in 2017, with membership totaling more than 20,000. Almost three-quarters of the gangsters belong to the Yamaguchi-gumi and two other groups, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai, which together dominate Japan’s underworld.
In addition to illegal drug sales and gambling, which are their traditional ways of earning money, gangsters also have entered construction, finance and security businesses.