The alleged ringleader of a string of robberies across Japan, known by the name of “Luffy,” is a Japanese national who was arrested in the Philippines in 2021 and is being held at an immigration facility in Manila, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.
Another Japanese national believed also part of the robbery group is being held at the same facility and will be sent back to Japan as soon as deportation papers were completed, according to Secretary Remulla, who confirmed their identities with Kyodo News on Thursday.
“Luffy” was suspected of giving people instructions to carry out the burglaries in Japan via the encrypted messaging app Telegram remotely from the immigration facility.
Luffy also faces separate charges in the Philippines and will be deported if the case was dismissed, or once he has served time if he was found guilty of the alleged crimes.
The other Japanese male has been detained at the immigration facility since 2019. After being apprehended by Philippine immigration at Manila’s international airport in 2019, he faced a deportation order the following year for being a fugitive in Japan for theft.
He also faced a separate criminal charges in the Philippines, but immigration authorities said he can now be deported because the criminal case against him was dropped at a local court on Wednesday.
The robberies began last year and appear to have been carried out by people who were instructed by ringleaders through the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
Among the cases was the murder-robbery of 90-year-old Kinuyo Oshio in her home in the city of Komae in Tokyo on Jan. 19. The incident struck a nerve in Japan, a country known for low crime rates and safety relative to other countries.
Analysis of phones belonging to some of those arrested in connection with the robberies shows they received instructions from three names — Luffy, Kim and Mitsuhashi. The telephone number linked to Luffy suggested he was in the Philippines, according to Japanese police.
According to Remulla, the warden of the Manila immigration facility has been instructed to confiscate all communication devices at the facility and ensure that access to them is strictly monitored.