Yakuza crime boss detained in Thailand

Elderly Yakuza boss arrested for unsolved murder case after tattoos go viral

Shigeharu Shirai 74 was arrested after

A 72-year-old Japanese fugitive who was recognised when his full-body tattoos were circulated online has been arrested by police in Thailand.

Shirai was arrested during a shopping trip on Wednesday, in the central market town of Lopburi, 160 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Shigeharu Shirai, 74, was a boss of the notorious Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, until he fled to Thailand in 2003 after supposedly murdering another gang leader.

Then Japanese authorities obtained information that he was hiding out in Thailand and had a Thai wife.

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

The pictures show Shigeharu in a baseball cap, check shirt and army pattern shorts relaxing with friends.

The person who posted the photos captioned them: 'Uncle, you're my idol.

"When I grow old, I want to be like him".

According to Thai police, he admitted he was a member of a yakuza gang but did not confess to the 2003 murder.

Officials said Shirai had built a "low profile" life in Thailand and had married a local woman.

However, much of the yakuza's earnings come from illicit activities including gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, protection rackets, drug trafficking, cyber hacking and white-collar crime.

They were long tolerated as a necessary evil to keep order on the streets and getting things done quickly - however dubious the means. Each group has its own headquarters, sometimes in full view of the police, who refer to them as b?ryokudan [violent groups].

"The suspect has not confessed to murder but has admitted that the victim used to bully him", he added. Police Gen Wirachai Songmetta said that Japanese associates paid visits to Shirai two to three times a year, each time bearing cash gifts at around 10,000 baht ($312).

He will be extradited to face prosecution in Japan.

Pol Col Ukrit Pooklan, deputy chief of Lop Buri police, said further details would be released later.

'A second indictment of being in the kingdom without permission.

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