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One Piece Ironically Stolen By Pirates

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How much booty did three real-world pirates gain from bootlegging new One Piece chapters before they officially went on sale? And how’d they pull it off for so long?

The police arrested Yō Uehara, a 30-year-old self-employed male from Okinawa Prefecture, Shizuka Nagaya, a 23-year-old freelance female writer from Tottori Prefecture, and Ryōji Hottai, a 31-year-old web designer from Akita Prefecture. The charge: leaking One Piece pages early for money, which is more profitable than you might think.

According to reports, Yō and Shizuka had a connection with local business merchants who would sell them copies of Shonen Jump before their official release date. They would then pass the books onto Ryōji, who would scan the latest One Piece chapters and get them on the Web. Through this practice the trio launched a “spoiler” website that lasted about a year and earned Yō and Shizuka 75 million yen, or nearly $700,000. Ryōji had been doing it for far longer, ultimately earning $2.80 million from his own site before the crackdown.

“With the author pouring his heart into these works, we are strongly angered it was profitable to release inappropriately made versions,” a representative from Jump Comics told the Tokyo Reporter. “We hope that these arrests will be a warning against piracy and the unauthorized use of publications.” Yō and Ryōji have accepted the charges; Shizuka is pleading partial innocence, claiming she hadn’t been involved with the sites in a year.

It’s unknown where the three pirates buried the treasure they accumulated; the only hint they provided was that it was “gathered in one place.”