Japanese Yakuza Leader Charged for Trafficking “Nuclear Materials”

What to Know:

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, along side the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), have announced the issuance of a superseding indictment charging Japanese Yakuza leader Takeshi Ebisawa with “conspiring with a network of associates to traffic nuclear materials from Burma to other countries,” such as Iran, which included “uranium and weapons-grade plutonium.”

The Case:

According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in early 2020, Ebisawa informed an undercover DEA agent posing as a narcotics and weapons trafficker, as well as a DEA confidential source, that he had a “large quantity of nuclear materials that he wanted to sell.”

Later on in the year, Ebisawa sent series of photographs depicting rocky substances with Geiger counters measuring radiation, as well as pages of what Ebisawa represented to be lab analyses indicating the presence of thorium and uranium in the depicted substances.

The undercover DEA agent then told Ebisawa that he would help broker a deal to an associate posing as an Iranian general for use in Iran’s nuclear weapons program. During discussions regarding Ebisawa’s access to nuclear materials, Ebisawa also engaged with the undercover DEA agent about his desire to purchase military-grade weapons.

In May 2021, Ebisawa sent the undercover agent list of weapons, such as SAM systems, which he wanted to purchase “on behalf of the leader of an ethnic insurgent group in Burma.” With that, the plan was to use funds from the sale of uranium to the “general” to buy the weapons.

By February, 2022, a co-conspirator of Ebisawa told the undercover agent that more than 2,000 kilograms of Thorium-232 and more than 100 kilograms of uranium yellowcake were available, as well as having the ability to “produce as much as five tons of nuclear materials in Burma.” A week later, meetings were set up in Thailand to discuss the transaction and samples of the nuclear materials were presented to the undercover agent.


With the help of Thai authorities, the samples were seized and transferred to the custody of U.S. law enforcement authorities.

“A U.S. nuclear forensic laboratory examined the Nuclear Samples and determined that both samples contain detectable quantities of uranium, thorium, and plutonium.  In particular, the laboratory determined that the isotope composition of the plutonium found in the Nuclear Samples is weapons-grade, meaning that the plutonium, if produced in sufficient quantities, would be suitable for use in a nuclear weapon,” the press release added.

The Charges:

Ebisawa has been charged with an array of criminal offenses, such as:

  • Conspiracy to commit international trafficking of nuclear materials
  • International trafficking of nuclear materials
  • Narcotics importation conspiracy
  • Conspiracy to acquire, transfer, and possess surface-to-air missiles
  • Conspiracy to possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices
  • Money laundering

With that, Ebisawa, who was apprehended in 2022, faces a maximum of sentence of life in prison if found guilty. Ebisawa also faces charges by the United States for a plot to buy stolen American weapons from Afghanistan in a weapons-for-narcotics deal involving armed ethnic groups in Myanmar.

Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.


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