Reputed Japanese Crime Figures Indicted on Drug, Weapons Charges
HONOLULU (AP) _ A reputed leader of Japan’s largest organized crime group and two associates were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on drug, firearms and contract murder charges.
Masashi Takenaka, said to be one of the top six leaders of the Yamaguchi- gumi , the largest organized crime group in Japan, and Kiyoshi Kajita were charged with conspiracy to import heroin and methamphetamines and importation and distribution of methamphetamines.
Takenaka, Kajita and Kiyoshi Ito were charged with conspiracy to smuggle weapons to Japan and to commit murder by hire. The three were arrested at a Waikiki hotel Sept. 2 following a yearlong investigation by federal undercover agents.
Six others, including three Japanese and a popular Hong Kong kung fu actor, were arrested in Hong Kong the same day on drug charges in connection with the same case.
The grand jury returned a separate indictment against a fourth man, Hok Ho Kwan, charging him with importation and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines.
At a detention hearing Tuesday, Takenaka and Kajita were ordered held without bail by U.S. Magistrate Joseph Gedan, who set a trial date of Nov. 5. The two later pleaded innocent to the charges.
Ito is to be arraigned Monday, while Kwan’s arraignment was set for Friday.
Special Agent Robert Aiu of the Drug Enforcement Administration, an undercover agents involved in the investigation, testified Tuesday the Japan National Police Agency told him Takenaka is one of six leaders trying to become overall leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Takenaka would succeed his brother, Masahisa, was shot to death in January by men believed to be working for Ichiwa-kai, a rival yakuza, or organized crime group.
Aiu, speaking Tuesday at the detention hearing for Takenaka and Kajita, described a series of meetings with Takenaka, Ito and Kajita, several of which he said were recorded on video and audio tape.
The defendents wanted to arm the Yamaguchi-gumi so they could retaliate against the Ichiwa-kai, he said.
At one of the meetings, the U.S. undercover agents displayed a small arsenal of weapons, including several rocket launchers, for purchase by the defendants, Aiu testified.
Takenaka said the rocket launcher would be a good weapon to use to kill the leader of the Ichiwa-kai because he is constantly guarded by his own men and by police, Aiu said.
Takenaka agreed to pay the U.S. agents $50,000 to carry out the murder in Japan, Aiu said.
Ito told the Americans he was finance director of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Aiu said. He said under cross-examination by Yvonne Chotzen, Kajita’s attorney, that Kajita indicated he was not a yakuza member but was close to other yakuza.
Yukio Yamanouchi, Japanese attorney for the Yamaguchi-gumi, told Japanese reporters that Takenaka and Ito are innocent, and were in Hawaii to arrange a concert in Japan by American singer Michael Jackson.