Last fall, police in Tokyo, Japan, shut down an illegal gaming hall operating in the Shinjuku district. The subsequent investigation uncovered illegal shakedowns and police have now arrested four yakuza-tied extortionists.
Tokyo police shut down an illegal gambling racket last November that had been operating in Shinjuku. They arrested the operation’s leader, as well as 10 others participating in the activity. However, that was only the beginning.
Police continued to investigate the activity and discovered more crimes. The Mainichi media outlet reports that this led to the arrest of four individuals this week. All four are low-level operatives of a local yakuza group, the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate, who were shaking down the casino for money.
YouTube, Yakuza and Extortion
The four regularly collected “protection money” from the gambling operation, a common practice of mafias around the world. One is a former YouTube influencer, Shunta “Tekisasu” Sakai, who is also a part of the Sumiyoshi-kai gang. This, according to local media, is the second-largest yakuza group in Japan, with an estimated 4,000 members.
The quartet of criminals shook down the illegal gambling operation four times from August to November of last year. They took around ¥1.1 million (US$8,400) in total through their extortion scheme. It’s likely that other businesses in the area were victims of the same group; however, police aren’t providing more details.
As such, police may hit the four with additional charges. In addition, with the investigation still active, it’s possible that at least one of them may decide to cut a deal and reveal more details about the yakuza’s operations. This could potentially help eradicate the organized criminal gangs, which today still have over 12,300 members.
Yakuza Continue to Fall
The yakuza have their hands in anything that will make them money – drugs, gambling, human trafficking and more. One boss warned four years ago that even the country’s legal integrated resort market was fair game for the gangs.
They also have no problems getting involved in the illegal sale of weapons. After a recent yakuza boss fell into a huge trap, though, one yakuza group is scrambling to avoid law enforcement.
Takeshi Ebisawa tried to broker large deals in Myanmar with at least three insurgent groups, according to an indictment unsealed in a US federal court earlier this month. He also traded weapons, including surface-to-air missiles manufactured in the US, for heroin and meth.
The 57-year-old, who allegedly ran the yakuza faction, didn’t know that he was actually in the middle of a sting. The man who organized the sales was, in reality, an agent undercover for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The feds finally got Ebisawa to Morton’s Steakhouse for dinner in Manhattan after three years’ worth of secret meetings. It was an international affair, with the meetings taking place in Bangkok, Copenhagen, Bali and other locations.
The steakhouse would be the location of his final meal as a free man, as the DEA arrested him and two others during the meeting. They arrested a fourth co-conspirator the following day.
International law enforcement groups now have more insight into how the yakuza work and more arrests will follow. For example, Ebisawa reportedly referred to weapons as “bamboo” drugs as “ice cream,” details that can help decipher codes.
The yakuza boss is now looking at a long list of serious charges from which he won’t escape. Among these are conspiracy to import narcotics, conspiracy to possess deadly firearms, conspiracy to commit laundering money and conspiracy to acquire, transfer and possess anti-aircraft missiles.
Ebisawa will remain behind bars until his trial over concerns that he may try to head underground.
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