Man held in Manila detention, 3 others accused of involvement in robbery in Philippines

Man held in Manila detention, 3 others accused of involvement in robbery in Philippines

MANILA - A man who was held in a Manila detention center along with three others over suspected involvement in a series of robberies in the Kanto region told his Philippines lawyer he had nothing to do with the crimes.

Kiyoto Imamura, 38, who has been arrested in connection with a special fraud case, was deported from the Philippines and landed in Japan on Tuesday along with Toshiya Fujita, 38, another robbery ring suspect.

According to a senior official of the Metropolitan Police Department, Imamura and Fujita were arrested on suspicion of theft in connection with a special fraud case that caused more than 6 billion yen damage across Japan around 2018 to 2020.

The MPD believes Imamura organized the callers who made fraudulent phone calls, while Fujita served as a recruiter to enlist perpetrators.

During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted in the Philippines, Imamura s lawyer said his client denied involvement with any fraud or robbery when he spoke to the Bicutan detention center in a Manila suburb on Sunday. The lawyer said Imamura seemed annoyed with all the allegations.

The two other suspects — Yuki Watanabe, 38, and Tomonobu Kojima, 45 — are expected to be handed over to the Japanese authorities on Wednesday evening local time and arrive in Japan on Thursday morning.

One of the four suspects is believed to be the boss, according to Watanabe.

A person calling himself Luffy or other names allegedly gave instructions from the Philippines in a series of robberies. The MPD intends to investigate the connection between this individual and the suspects.

According to the police, more than 50 robbery cases in Tokyo and 13 prefectures since summer 2021 had similarities to a series of recent crimes in which people were recruited through dark part-time job offers on social media. The National Police Agency found more than 60 people were arrested in those 50 plus cases, and local police are investigating the possible involvement of the Luffy group. According to the NPA, the crimes used a similar modus operandi in that multiple perpetrators were recruited via social media, broke into homes and stores, tied people up and robbed them of money and goods.

The NPA had already confirmed more than 30 such robbery cases in Tokyo and 13 prefectures. Several of the police investigations conducted by local police have uncovered a number of other similar cases. More than 30 arrests have been made in 14 robbery cases that occurred in Tokyo and eight prefectures since last autumn. More than 60 people have been arrested after being arrested in addition to the other robbery cases, according to the NPA.

In those cases, police have confirmed that the person who issued instructions identified himself as either Luffy, Kim or Mitsuhashi.