Japanese Mafia Suspect Arrested in Pattaya

Shinichi Nagata, 32, at a police press conference on 2 March 2015.

BANGKOK — Police say they have arrested a top member of a Japanese crime syndicate who allegedly brought in more than 22 million baht in fraud schemes over the course of several months.

Shinichi Nagata, 32, was arrested at his residence in central Pattaya on the evening of 28 February, Thai police said at a press conference today. 

Japan's Metropolitan Police contacted Thai police on 5 February and asked them to locate and arrest Shinichi on charges of fraud, said Pol.Gen. Jakthip Chaijinda, deputy commander of the Royal Thai Police.

According to Pol.Gen. Jakthip, Shinichi defrauded more than 85 million yen (approximately 22 million baht) from elderly Japanese people between April – July 2014 by fooling them into buying non-existent bonds. 

Pol.Gen. Jakthip said 21 of Shinichi's accomplices were arrested by Japanese police in November 2014, the same month that Shinichai fled to Thailand.

Pol.Maj.Gen. Panurat Lakboon, a commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said the suspect will also be charged with overstaying his Thai visa. 

"Mr. Shinichi entered Thailand on 15 November 2014. He has been hiding at JW Condominium in Central Pattaya," Pol.Maj.Gen. Panurat said. "His visa only allowed him to stay in Thailand until 13 January 2015." 

Japanese police describe Shinichi as a high-ranking member of an organized crime network in Japan, called the Sumiyoshi Kai. With an estimated 6,000 members, the group is believed to be the second-largest "Yakuza," or Japanese mafia, in the country. 

"According to the information provided by Japanese police, the group used to make money through extortion, but in the present time it has changed its methods to fooling people to buy [non-existent] things over the phone," Pol.Maj.Gen. Panurat told reporters.

Shinichi, who refused to give testimony to police, will be handed over to Japanese authorities in 10 days, the officer said.

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