TOKYO - Two men suspected of being behind a string of robberies across Japan were taken into police custody en route to Tokyo on Thursday following their deportation from the Philippines.
The arrival of Yuki Watanabe, 38, and Tomonobu Kojima, 45, marked the completion of the handover of four suspects Tokyo police had sought from the Southeast Asian country, where they were detained on local charges.
Watanabe and Kojima are suspected of stealing two cash cards in November 2019, part of a scam targeting elderly people in Japan.
The other two members of the group, Kiyoto Imamura and Toshiya Fujita, both 38, who were deported from the Philippines to Japan on Tuesday, have also been arrested for stealing cash cards in 2019.
In addition to the scam allegations, the four are believed to have remotely coordinated robberies in Japan that began last year, running the operation from the Philippines by buying privileges at the immigration facility where they were detained.
The men are thought to have organized the crimes via an encrypted messaging app, offering high-paid "part-time jobs" to people who were tasked with committing the robberies.
Recent robberies included one case that resulted in the murder of a 90-year-old woman in Tokyo in January.
The four suspects likely include the person, or persons thought to have used the pseudonyms "Luffy" and "Kim" when the crimes were allegedly committed.
The Metropolitan Police Department plans to get to the bottom of the robberies by analyzing smartphones and tablets seized from the four at the immigration facility.