Four suspects accused of orchestrating a string of burglaries in at least 14 prefectures in Japan since last year were extradited from the Philippines to Japan last week. At least one of the suspects has been using the alias “Luffy” when organizing the crimes, an apparent reference the aspiring Pirate King protagonist of the One Piece anime and manga series.
Coincidentally, the suspects were flown back on a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with the registration number JA620J — the very same jet redecorated in a One Piece collaboration last summer. Japan Airlines claims that this is a total coincidence.
The suspects include Yuki Watanabe and Kiyoto Imamura, who were allegedly involved in a scam in 2019, as well as Tomonobu Kojima and Toshiya Fujita. Imamura and Fujita arrived at the Shibuya police station last Tuesday, while Watanabe and Kojima arrived last Thursday. Watanabe and Kojima were held for two extra days over a separate criminal case in the Philippines.
Police have arrested several suspects in each of the separate burglary cases. One of the robberies resulted in the murder of Iyo Ōshio, a 90-year-old woman in Komae, Tokyo.
Based on communication data on the suspects’ mobile phones, the police believe that the robbers received instruction from “Luffy” using the Telegram messenger app. The group members appear to have been recruited through an informal recruitment ad on social media.
The Telegram messenger app is often used to orchestrate robberies because of its highly anonymous nature. The suspect of a robbery of a recycle shop in Chiba prefecture on January 12 was also found to have the Telegram app on his mobile phone.
Source: Aviation Wire (Tadayuki Yoshikawa) via Hachima Kikō