One of Japan’s most notorious crime bosses, dubbed the ‘John Gotti of Japan’, was kicked out of his life of crime and became a priest.
Goto amassed a fortune from prostitution, protection rackets and white-collar crime while cultivating a reputation for extreme violence.
At the height of their power, his Yakuza group, Yamaguchi-gumi, were responsible for extreme acts of violence including bulldozing businesses that refused to pay protection money and administering beatings to victims in front of their families, as reports The Guardian.
The publication added that leaked police documents claimed that “in order to achieve his goals, [Goto] uses any and all means necessary or possible. He also uses a carrot-and-stick approach to keep his soldiers in line. His group is capable of extremely violent and aggressive acts”.
He made a deal with the FBI to rat out the syndicate in exchange for a life-saving operation
Reports claim that heavy drinking and drug culture was rife within the gang, and Goto admitted in his autobiography ‘Habakarinagara’ that he “drank enough to destroy three livers,”.
A decision which led to his undoing.
Goto needed a lifesaving liver transplant but due to his criminal record, he was not eligible for a visa to travel for the procedure. So, he allegedly made a deal with the FBI.
In exchange for giving up vital information about yakuza front companies, as well as the names of senior crime figures and the mob’s links to North Korea, Goto was given a visa and the lifesaving procedure.
Once he retired he entered the priesthood
In 2001, he received treatment at the UCLA medical centre, after jumping to the front of the transplant list and making a $100,000 donation.
The Los Angeles hospital provided altogether four Japanese gang figures with liver transplants over a period when several hundred local patients died while awaiting transplants.
However, the retired chief of the FBI’s Asian criminal enterprise unit allegedly said that ‘Goto provided little useful information’.
Reporter Jake Adelstein broke the story exposing the deal in the Washington Post in 2008, with a follow-up story in the LA Times.
Months later Goto then vanished from the Yamaguchi-gumi in 2008, with reports claiming that he was forced into retirement by the Kobe headquarters’ ruling faction led by Kiyoshi Takayama of the Kodo-kai.
Goto also upset his seniors by centring in several media reports after he invited several celebrities to join his lavish birthday celebrations in September of that year.
His expulsion from the Yamaguchi-Gumi was officially confirmed by the headquarters in October 2008.
And in 2009 the underworld boss left his former life of crime behind and turned to Budhism, deciding to enter the priesthood. However, their have been reports that he remained in organised crime despite the change.
The power he amassed and his gangs antics earned him a comparison to American gangster and boss of the Gambino crime family John Gotti. The infamous mafia man was one of the most powerful men in New York at one point.
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