Fugitive 'Yakuza boss' rumbled after elaborate tattoos go viral

Thai police have arrested an alleged Yakuza boss on the run whose hiding place was rumbled when images of his elaborate full-body tattoos were shared tens of thousands of times online.

A police statement says Shigeharu Shirai, 72, was arrested Wednesday in a province north of Bangkok.

He has been in hiding for more than 10 years to evade murder charges in Japan in connection with the death of a rival gang member, according to officials. 

Shirai’s arrest came after photos of him sitting on the roadside playing a board game were posted on Facebook in August last year.

They were taken by a Thai who was impressed by the man’s unusual tattoos, showing floral motifs on a background of waves, but appeared unaware of his identity.

It was shared more than 10,000 times when some users identified the former crime boss. 

Shirai is married to a Thai woman and kept a low profile over the past decade, police said. 

According to police, Shirai was a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi gang, a faction within Japan’s Yakuza.

He is implicated, along with seven others, in the killing of Kashihiko Otobe, who was the deputy leader of the rival Kamiya gang. 

Shirai will face illegal entry charges before he is handed over to Japanese authorities, the police statement said.

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