299: James Stern – Yakuza Japanese Mob, Operation Tropical Storm

In this episode, retired agent James Stern reviews Operation Tropical Storm, where he was the undercover agent in a transnational drug enterprise investigation targeting the Yakuza Japanese mob trafficking methamphetamine in Hawaii.

This was the first-ever arrest, indictment and conviction of a Japanese crime boss in U.S. law enforcement history. The case was featured on an episode of Deep Undercover TV Series and was also recounted in the true crime book, Operation Tropical Storm: How an FBI Jewish-Japanese Special Agent Snared a Yakuza Boss in Hawaii.

Jim served in the FBI for 25 years. During his career, he held various positions with increased responsibilities at FBI offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Honolulu and Hong Kong. Jim was an FBI certified polygraph examiner and a member of the FBI San Francisco SWAT team.

He was assigned to FBI Headquarters as a supervisor and then as chief of Asian and African Organized Crime Programs. He has testified as an expert witness on Asian Organized Crime before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. Congress.

In addition to these duties, Jim was assigned to several high profile FBI investigations to include the kidnapping and murder of Journalist Daniel Pearl, the 2001 Anthrax attacks, lead Agent assigned to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Tylenol Aspirin poisoning and extortion investigation, Osama bin Laden manhunt in Pakistan, multiple murder investigations of American Citizens overseas, the polygraph interrogation of Saddam Hussein’s bodyguard, and the extensive retraining in Bosnia and Herzegovina of their police officers after the Bosnian War.

After retiring, Jim was the Global Security Chief for Wynn Resorts. Currently, he is a Senior Partner of Global IR Consulting. He can be reached via his LinkedIn profile.

Special Agent (Retired)

James Stern

June 1982 – June 2007







“The Yakuza I was with was drinking like crazy and he started taking his clothes off in the restaurant. Took his shirt off and he’s showing off his tattoos, not only just his arms but his…everywhere.”—Retired Agent James Stern

The following are links to articles and videos about the Yakuza and Operation Tropical Storm:

“Deep Undercover” – Operation Tropical Storm

Jetset Times – 7/13/2021:  A Look Inside The Japanese Mafia: The Yakuza

Tanken Japan – What Is The Yakuza In Japan And Are They Still Active?

Listen to these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes undercover agents and operations.

Learn more about the Yakuza and what their tattoos symbolize here.








Investigative journalist Jake Adelstein wrote a true crime book about the investigation and Jim Stern’s undercover role.











Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. Patricia CorcoranOctober 14, 2023

    I love all of your Podcast Episodes but I finally came to the website and just wanted to thank you for what you do. I have bought and read your fiction books. Are you going to write more fiction books? I am already waiting for the next episode.

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 24, 2023

      Thanks for visiting the website. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my books. I have atleast two more novels coming out, but not until 2025.


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