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EDITORIAL | Large-Scale Robbery Ring Bosses Must Be Repatriated to Japan As Soon as Possible

The robbery ring is suspected of at least 14 apparently linked crimes in eight prefectures and at least 30 individuals have been taken into custody so far.



Home Invasion robbery ring
The Philippine immigration facility where suspect Yuki Watanabe, AKA Luffy is held. (©Kyodo)

Regarding the rash of home invasion crimes and apparently coordinated by a robbery ring that have swept Japan recently, Yasuhiro Tsuyuki, Director General of the National Police Agency (NPA), told a January 26 press conference, "I would like to dispel the anxiety prevalent among the public." 

Japan's top cop added, "It is crucial that we identify and expose the mastermind."

Responding to this call for action, Kuniyoshi Watanabe, head of the Criminal Affairs Bureau of the NPA, spoke to the chiefs of prefectural police departments. He stressed, "Anxiety is increasing among the public and the true value of the police is being questioned."

We should not have to lose sleep because a gang of brutal and vicious robbers remains on the loose. 

As of now investigators believe that the person giving the orders under the alias "Luffy" is one of four Japanese men suspected of being ringleaders. All four are currently detained at an immigration facility in the Philippines. 

The NPA has obtained arrest warrants for the four on suspicion of theft and other charges related to a "special fraud" case. Police are now seeking the cooperation of the Philippines authorities in extraditing the suspects to Japan as soon as possible. 

Hopefully, that will set the stage for getting to the bottom of the whole affair and destroying this criminal operation. 

Home Invasion robbery ring
The Philippine immigration facility where suspect Yuki Watanabe and three other suspects have been held. (©Kyodo)

Crimes of the Robbery Ring

A single group of criminals is believed to have conducted a series of robberies since October of 2022. There were at least 14 such apparently linked crimes in eight prefectures. Up to now, more than 30 individuals have been taken into custody, ranging in age from their teens to over thirty. 

One crime was a murder-robbery in Komae City, western Tokyo, in which a 90-year-old woman died. In addition, these crimes have included one attempted robbery-homicide and nine robberies resulting in injuries. The victims were helpless when violently set upon. 

Home Invasion robbery ring
Inside of the Manila immigration facility where robbery ring suspects were being held. Photo taken and provided by Roji Hoshino (©Kyodo)

Where the Suspects Are Now

The internment facility on the outskirts of Manila, where the alleged gang kingpins are being held, has a reputation for rampant corruption through bribery. A man familiar with what goes on inside has labeled it a "Paradise for scoundrels." 

Internees who pay large bribes are allowed to use smartphones and personal computers. It is said that some of the internees are running online casinos or controlling special fraud operations even while in the facility. 

Investigators believe that the geographically widespread theft ring in Japan also received instructions from inside the camp via the Telegram social network and other methods. 

robbery ring home invasion
Philippine Justice Minister Jesus Crispin Remulla told the media on January 31 that one suspect would be ready for deportation by February 1. (Screenshot)

Extradition of the Robbery Ring Members

Japan and the Philippines do not have a formal extradition treaty. Japan can only request that the individuals in question be forcibly repatriated. 

However, in the past internees have allegedly paid new "complainants" to file legal proceedings against them. They do this hoping to evade deportation.

The first thing that needs to be done is to drag the suspects out of the "Paradise for Scoundrels" so that the investigation can proceed. In addition to the concerted efforts of the police, hopefully Japan's diplomats will also do their utmost to see these individuals repatriated as soon as possible.

It stands to reason that the group also has ringleaders here in Japan who might have, for example, used private information to threaten the individuals who actually committed the crimes. In order to thoroughly root out these crimes, we must directly investigate those prime movers who have been pulling the strings. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


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