MANILA — One of the 4 suspects believed to be behind a string of robberies across Japan is expected to be returned from the Philippines in the next few days, the Southeast Asian country's justice minister said Tuesday.
The other 3 suspects requested by Tokyo for transfer to Japan will be sent once certain conditions are fulfilled, Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said at a press conference.
The 4 men, who are currently in detention at an immigration facility in Manila, are believed to have remotely coordinated a series of robberies in Japan that began last year using an encrypted messaging app.
Remulla said that communications devices including phones had been confiscated from the suspects, and that one of them had owned 6 mobile phones.
The 4 men likely include a person or persons thought to have masterminded the robberies under the names "Luffy" and "Kim." Tokyo has sought the transfer of the 4 after Japanese police obtained arrest warrants on suspicion of theft in connection with a scam targeting elderly people in Japan.
Among the 4 detained in the facility, 38-year-old Yuki Watanabe was allegedly one of the leaders of the fraud group, which stole some 3.5 billion yen ($27 million) in around 2,300 cases between November 2018 and June 2020, police said.
Upon their return to Japan, police will arrest the 4 over the alleged scams and also investigate their suspected involvement in a string of robberies that have taken place across Japan since last year, including a Jan. 19 case in the suburban city of Komae in Tokyo that led to the death of 90-year-old Kinuyo Oshio.