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Former Japanese Yakuza Gang Member Arrested for Trying to Use Compatriot as a Drug Mule

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BANGKOK – A 57-year-old Japanese man, who is an alleged former member of a gang in the Yakuza criminal syndicate has been arrested by Crime Suppression Division police at a condominium in Bangkok’s Huai Khwang district.

The alleged member of Japans Yakuza, Kazuhiko Ono, 57, was taken into custody Tuesday evening, police also seized some crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and one ecstasy pill.

The arrest comes after a Japanese compatriot filed a complaint with the Japanese embassy that Ono tried to trick him into smuggling an illicit drug into Japan, Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop said.

According to investigators, Mr Ono took a golf bag containing seven clubs out of the condominium on March 2 and went to see a Japanese friend who was about to leave for Japan. He asked his friend to hand the golf clubs over to another friend in Japan.

However, his compatriot became suspicious. Three of the golf clubs were old and seemed heavy. Each weighed about 545 grams, whereas they would normally weigh 200-300 grams.

The friend grew suspicious about the unusually heavy golf clubs and alerted the Japanese Embassy that he may be used for narcotics smuggling. The embassy then coordinated with the CSD on March 5 to investigate this case, said Jirapop.

Investigators obtained a search warrant from the Criminal court to search Mr Ono’s condominium room, where they found some drugs.

The investigation also revealed Mr Ono was involved in physical assaults, loan sharking and illicit drug trading in Thailand, Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop alleged.

During interrogation, Mr Ono denied all charges. He admitted to being a former member of the Japanese yakuza, but said he had cut off his little finger and left the gang. He later began a tour business in Thailand.

He insisted he was not aware there were drugs inside the golf club head covers.

The drugs found in his room were bought for his own use. Some were left by friends, he said.

He was held on a charge of having drugs in his possession with intent to sell.