Thai police have arrested a retired Japanese crime boss who was on the run for 15 years, after his elaborate tattoos went viral on Facebook.
Shigeharu Shirai, 72, a leading figure of one of Japan’s notorious “Yakuza” mafia gangs was wanted by the Japanese authorities for his alleged role in the murder of a gangland rival in 2003.
He is accused of shooting dead the boss of a rival faction, which resulted in the imprisonment of seven members of his gang for between 12 and 17 years.
He had fled to Thailand, married a local woman and melted into a seemingly obscure retirement before someone unwittingly posted photos of him playing a streetside checkers game with his distinctive gangland tattoos on display.
A missing little finger, which reflects a tradition by yakuza members of slicing off a fingertip in atonement for an offence, also provided a clue to his true identity.
The seemingly innocent images were shared more than 10,000 times and were spotted by the Japanese police, who alerted the authorities in Thailand.