HYOGO (TR) – A member of a criminal syndicate awaiting trial over the alleged murder of two rival gangsters in Kobe City in 2019 has died, authorities have revealed, reports NHK (Dec. 31).
On Thursday morning, Toshio Maruyama, 70, was found collapsed at a detention house. He was later confirmed dead.
Maruyama is believed to have died due to natural causes, the authorities said.
Maruyama, a native of Kagoshima Prefecture, was a member of the Kodo-kai. The gang is the top affiliate gang of the Yamaguchi-gumi, whose chief rival is the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.
On October 10, 2019, Maruyama is alleged to have fatally shot Takayasu Sato, 43, and Kenji Nakagawa, 39, in front of an office of the Yamaken-gumi, a second-tier gang of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.
Earlier that day, the Yamaken-gumi was holding its regular monthly meeting. Maruyama posed as a tabloid reporter when he arrived at the scene. Police officers were already present for the meeting.
At around 2:40 p.m., Maruyama, with the officers still present, pulled out a pump-action gun and shot Sato and Nakagawa at close range after they emerged from the office.
Officers then tackled Maruyama to the ground. Sato and Nakagawa, both members of the Yamaken-gumi, were later confirmed dead at a hospital, police said previously.
Police suspected that the incident is retaliation for the shooting of a Yamaguchi-gumi member in Kobe earlier that year.
According to weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun (Oct. 24), the Kodo-kai enlisted Maruyama as a hitman to carry out the act.