- Crime & Courts
2 Robbery Ring Suspects Land in Japan from Philippines, After Arrest En Route
18:07 JST, February 7, 2023
MANILA — Two of four Japanese men suspected of remotely orchestrating a recent string of robberies in Japan through the use of electronic communication devices while in detention in the Philippines landed at Narita Airport on Tuesday afternoon, along with the Metropolitan Police Department officers who formally arrested them en route.
The two suspects, Kiyoto Imamura and Toshiya Fujita, both 38, were extradited from the Philippines, which transferred them to Japanese custody.
Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla told reporters at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila that a total of 24 smartphones and tablet devices were used by the four men at the detention center. The devices have been seized and were to be returned to Japan on Tuesday.
The four men, also including Yuki Watanabe, 38, and Tomonobu Kojima, 45, are also believed to be top members of a fraud group that caused total damage estimated at ¥6 billion in Japan. The arrest warrants for Imamura and Fujita stemmed from that earlier case.
More recently, in a series of robberies committed in Japan, people using the names “Luffy” or “Kim” gave instructions from the Philippines via the Telegram messaging app to on-the-ground perpetrators who were recruited for “dark” part-time jobs on social media.
The four, who were being held at the Bicutan detention center in a Manila suburb, are suspected of being behind that case, too.
The MPD will first investigate the involvement of the four suspects in the older fraud case. It also plans to analyze the smartphones that were to be handed over by the Philippine authorities to investigate their connection with the string of recent robberies as well.
Philippine authorities transported Imamura and Fujita from the detention center to Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday morning. Both men wore T-shirts and short pants. The flight carrying them departed at about 11 a.m.
2 more await deportation
The other two suspects, Watanabe and Kojima, were not extradited at the same time because they had been facing trial in the Philippines on local charges. However, they may be deported as early as Wednesday, as the cases against them were dismissed on Tuesday, a defense attorney told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
The two had been facing trial for assaulting women.
Watanabe was said to be called “Boss” as the top figure in the fraud group. The MPD will further investigate their command system.
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