A suspected senior member of a group that ran scams in Japan from the Philippines, apparently under the pseudonym "Luffy," was arrested on Thursday for allegedly ordering one of a slew of robberies reported across Japan.

Kiyoto Imamura, who was served a fresh arrest warrant, became the first to be charged with robbery among the group's senior members who had given instructions for the crime.

The latest arrest warrant was for orchestrating the crime, which took place in Kyoto. He has already been indicted for theft over a scam.

Luffy was among the pseudonyms used by those who gave robbery orders.

The 39-year-old, who was deported in February from the Philippines, is suspected of being involved in the robbery of 41 watches totaling 69 million yen ($477,000) in value from a jewelry shop in Kyoto on May 2 last year.

Tokyo police have been investigating Imamura and three others -- Yuki Watanabe, Tomonobu Kojima and Toshiya Fujita, who were also deported from the Southeast Asian country under suspicion of having been involved in the scams -- over the robberies across Japan.

File photo shows the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

The Metropolitan Police Department has not disclosed whether Imamura has admitted to the allegations.

But according to investigative sources, Imamura denied the allegations shortly after his arrest and has since remained silent.

Besides Imamura, 13 people, including those suspected of actually executing the crime, have been arrested over the robbery in Kyoto. Eleven of them have been indicted.

Imamura allegedly communicated with his fellow suspects through the encrypted messaging app "Telegram," giving them instructions on renting a car to carry out the crime, scoping out the area, and purchasing hammers for breaking the store's showcases.

According to the sources, Yuki Miyazawa, 22, was arrested on May 31 on suspicion of sending around 1 million yen to Imamura's bank account, which included profits related to the Kyoto robbery.

The group is believed to be behind at least 50 criminal incidents, including robberies, spanning 14 prefectures since the summer of 2021 under the pseudonyms "Luffy" or "Kim."

The Tokyo police said Wednesday that it has set up a joint investigative headquarters with prefectural police departments in Chiba, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi over the robberies.

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