It was hot in Thailand last week. So hot that a 74-year old man watching two of his friends play chess on a square took off his shirt, revealing his tattooed skin. Another man, who posts pictures of Tattoos on Facebook, took a picture of the event and placed it on social media the same evening, just a normal regular picture of three old men involved in a game of chess.
The picture quickly went viral.
Why, well because the 74-year-old watching the other elders play chess was sporting a lot of Yakuza (Japanese mafia) tattoos which were very recognizable to many police forces worldwide.
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The next morning already the picture from Thailand had made it to Tokyo police headquarters, where one of the lead investigators into Yakuza activity immediately recognized a crime boss known as Shigeharu Shirai, who had been on the run for 15 years already.
Today Thai police forces swarmed his house in Lopburi province, 150 km (95 miles) north of the capital, Bangkok and arrested him, to be shortly handed over to Japan.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="th" dir="ltr">เปิดปูม "ชิเกฮารุ ชิเรอิ" หัวหนาแกงยากูซาสินลายหนีคดีซุกไทย <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%E0%B8%A2%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%B9%E0%B8%8B%E0%B9%88%E0%B8%B2?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ยากูซา</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%E0%B8%A2%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%A1%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%B9%E0%B8%88%E0%B8%B4?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ยามากูจิ</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%E0%B8%8A%E0%B8%B4%E0%B9%80%E0%B8%81%E0%B8%AE%E0%B8%B2%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%B8?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ชิเกฮารุ</a><br><br>มาทำความรูจักกับ ชิเกฮารุ ชิเรอิ Shigeharu SHIRAI ชายชราวัย 74 ปี ผูมีรอยสักเตมหลังนี คือ ใคร ? <a href="https://t.co/adAZ2QGef9">https://t.co/adAZ2QGef9</a></p>— อีจัน (@EJanNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/EJanNews/status/951418548672389120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 11, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Mr Shirai stands accused of being one of eight gangsters involved in the murder of another gang leader in 2003. The other seven have been arrested but Shirai escaped to Thailand in 2005.
Mr Wirachai Songmetta, Thailand’s deputy police chief, stated: “He admitted that the victim had been bullied and there might have been plots within the Yakuza subgroups to kill him … but he has not confessed to murdering the fellow gang leader.”