On 16th May, the Asahi Tribune reported that police suspect the surge in gold-smuggling incidents is partly being orchestrated by “semi-organised” crime syndicates that operate loosely and can avoid the restrictive laws imposed on traditional yakuza groups. Authorities have little information about the numbers and activities of the “jun-boryokudan” semi-organized syndicates, which are also called “hangure” (half-astray), but recent arrests indicate that the multibillion-yen gold-smuggling industry is a key source of income for these groups. Hangure do not operate as fixed units. But members gather together through personal networks each time they plan a crime. A source said gold smuggling from Hong Kong is “highly profitable”. Smugglers buy the gold in Hong Kong, which has no consumption tax. If they can get around customs officials and sell the gold in Japan, their profit is the amount they avoided paying in Japanese taxes, the source said. The number of gold smuggling cases uncovered in 2017 was 1,347, an increase of 536 from the previous year, according to Finance Ministry. Hong Kong was the origin of the gold in 25% of the smuggling cases.