Japanese Crime Leader Charged Over Bid to Sell Nuclear Material

(RepublicanJournal.org) – A top Japanese organized crime figure has been charged with dealing in nuclear material. The Yakuza boss allegedly sourced weapons-grade fuel then tried to sell it as part of an illegal arms deal. He’s being prosecuted by the DEA as well as the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The Yakuza — Japan’s Shadowy Crime Gangs

Japan’s Yakuza crime syndicates first emerged in the 17th century, growing out of gangs of leaderless samurai. They were at the peak of their power in the 1960s but have declined since then as Japan has cracked down on their activities. However, Yakuza groups are still among the richest and most sophisticated organized crime gangs in the world, and while they’re strongest in Japan they also operate internationally. On February 22, a Manhattan court unsealed an indictment against a Yakuza boss who allegedly ran an international drug and arms smuggling operation — and was moving into nuclear weapon materials.

According to the Department of Justice, in 2020 Takeshi Ebisawa told several people — one of whom was a confidential source for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — that he had a large quantity of nuclear material for sale. According to Ebisawa, this material included thorium and uranium. The confidential source offered to put him in touch with an “Iranian general,” who was really another US agent.

Ebisawa, now believing that he would be supplying Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program, then came up with an even better offer; he said he had access to weapons-grade plutonium. When he provided samples it turned out he was telling the truth. He wasn’t talking about small quantities, either; he offered to sell the source 50 tons of uranium and thorium for $6.85 million.

As well as the nuclear material, Ebisawa allegedly conspired to sell Burmese narcotics, probably heroin, as well as negotiated to buy a range of weapons including rifles, machineguns, and surface-to-air missiles. The indictment says those weapons were meant for an insurgent group in Burma. The Justice Department says Ebisawa’s criminal network “extends through Asia, Europe, and the United States, among other places.”

Along with Ebisawi, a 61-year-old Thai man, Somphop Singhasiri, is also named in the indictment as a co-conspirator. Thai law enforcement cooperated with US agencies in investigating the case. Ebisawi now faces charges of international trafficking of nuclear materials, conspiracy to import narcotics, two separate counts of conspiracy to possess illegal weapons, and money laundering. If he’s convicted he faces life in prison.

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