The Department of Justice will investigate Immigration officials who may have been in cahoots with a Japanese national in running a series of robberies in Japan while being detained in a Bureau of Immigration facility.
“I will hold them accountable if it is found out that they were operating a criminal enterprise inside. We will hold them accountable,” Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla said.
Remulla said the DOJ will also look into the pending criminal case for violence against women and children filed against Yuki Watanabe, suspected of being part of the Japanese robbery group, to determine whether it was a “simulated case” to prevent his deportation.
“We cannot act on a deportation of a person with a pending case, that’s why we’re looking at the case if it’s a simulated case, if it’s a real case or a simulated case,” the Justice chief said.
Watanabe, who also goes by the aliases Kenjie Watanabe and Kenjie Shimada, was arrested by the bureau in April 2021.
He is supposedly known as “Luffy,” the alleged ringleader of a robbery group suspected of giving people instructions to carry out the burglaries in Japan via the encrypted messaging app Telegram remotely from the immigration facility.
“The Japanese government is the only one who can confirm it [identity] when we show them the person in custody,” Remulla said.
A second Japanese national under Immigration custody is Imamura Kiyoto, who was initially suspected of being “Luffy” but turned out to be only a member of the group, the DOJ said in a briefer.
“We already banned telephones so they will have no means of communication,” Remulla said.
The robberies began last year and appear to have been carried out by people who were instructed by ringleaders through the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
Among the cases was the murder-robbery of 90-year-old Kinuyo Oshio in her home in the city of Komae in Tokyo on Jan. 19. The incident struck a nerve in Japan, a country known for low crime rates and safety relative to other countries.
Analysis of phones belonging to some of those arrested in connection with the robberies shows they received instructions from three names —Luffy, Kim and Mitsuhashi.
The telephone number linked to Luffy suggested he was in the Philippines, according to Japanese police.