TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 34-year-old member of a special criminal syndicate over the alleged smuggling of gold from Hong Kong last year, reports TBS News (May 16).
On two occasions in December, officials with Tokyo Customs found a total of 10 kilograms of gold, valued at around 45 million, concealed at the bottom of boxes that arrived as cargo at Haneda Airport.
Police have accused Tsubasa Honjo, a 34-year-old member of Dragon, of violating customs and income tax laws for allegedly giving the instructions to carry out the crime. The whereabouts of about 10 other persons are also sought in the case.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the number of cases of gold smuggling has surged since the consumption tax was upped from 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014. Between 2016 and last year, the figure jumped from 811 to 1,347, with the amount seized doubling to 6,200 kilograms. In about 25 percent of the cases, the origin of the gold was Hong Kong.
With the consumption tax on gold in Hong Kong being zero, smugglers can turn handsome profits by reselling the bars at precious metals shops in Japan. “The reward is huge,” a person connected to a criminal organization tell the Asahi Shimbun (May 16).
Police believe that Honjo had undertaken such a tactic, suspecting him in the smuggling of more than 100 million yen in gold since last year.
Law enforcement had long viewed Dragon, along with Kento Rengo, as bosozoku biker gangs. However, starting in 2013 the National Police Agency began classifying bosozoku gangs as “pseudo-yakuza” groups to better reflect the true state of their activities.
Update: Police now suspect that Honjo participated in the same crime on about 150 occasions, with the total value of the gold nearly 4.9 billion yen.