A Thai local spotted the 74-year-old fugitive Japanese gangster playing checkers shirtless at a park in Thailand and was so impressed with his vast collection of body tattoos that he posted photos of him on Facebook.
AFP reports eight gang members were said to be involved in the rival's murder; the others were all arrested and sentenced to 12 to 17 years.
A former Japanese gang leader has been arrested in Thailand after more than 14 years on the run after photos of his tattoos went viral.
"The suspect admitted that he was the leader of the Yakuza sub-gang Kodokai", General Wirachai Songmetta, a Thai police spokesman, said.
Japanese gang member Shigeharu Shirai displays his tattoos at a police station during a press conference in Lopburi.
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Police said the attention of Japanese authorities was drawn after pictures of Yakuza tattoos covering Shirai's back went viral on social media.According to the Nation, a Facebook user who himself has colourful tattoos all over his body, posted photos of the Japenese man in August a year ago. "When I grow up, will I look like you?"
The photos were shared more than 10,000 times, catching the attention of the Japanese police who asked their Thai counterparts to arrest the man.
Another giveaway: The photos showed Shirai absent the tip of his pinkie, a common self-inflicted punishment among those yakuza who've made a mistake.
Thai police escorting Shirai.
While the gangs themselves are not illegal, much of their earnings are gained illicitly through gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking and cyber-hacking.
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They were long tolerated as a necessary evil to keep order on the streets and getting things done quickly - however dubious the means.
Police have also said they would investigate other suspected Yakuza gangsters in Thailand even if they did not have an arrest warrant.
The mobster boss kept a "low profile" during his stay in country, police said, receiving money two or three times each year from a visiting Japanese man.
According to Thai officials, Shirai is expected to be extradited to Japan.
Members of the gangs traditionally distinguish themselves with intricate tattoos, which come to symbolise a person's toughness and acceptance of being an outcast from society.
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