Tattoo photos lead to capture of reputed ex-Yakuza boss after 15 years

By Sara Shayanian  |  Jan. 11, 2018 at 11:22 AM
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Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Authorities said Thursday a former Japanese Yakuza crime boss was arrested after 15 years on the run -- for the death of a rival gangster, after a photo of his tattoos were noticed on Facebook.

Shigeharu Shirai, 74, a reputed boss of the Yakuza mafia group, fled to Thailand in 2003 after allegedly killing Kashihiko Otobe, a deputy leader of the rival Kamiya gang.

"The suspect admitted that he was the leader of the Yakuza sub-gang Kodokai," General Wirachai Songmetta, a Thai police spokesman, said.

Shirai was arrested while shopping in Lopburi, north of Bangkok, after photos of him sitting around a checkers table with his distinctive full body tattoos on display were posted on Facebook in August.

The person who posted the photos was impressed by the tattoos and captioned the photo "Uncle, you're my idol. When I grow up, will I look like you?"

The post, which was shared more than 10,000 times, helped some users identify him as the fugitive and ended a multi-national manhunt between the Thai Investigation Bureau and the Japanese Interpol.

Along with his tattoos, Shirai is also missing a little finger on his left hand -- a common punishment for Yakuza members.

Officials said Shirai had built a "low profile" life in Thailand and had married a local woman. He will be extradited to face prosecution in Japan.

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