Japanese Crime Boss Charged with Trafficking Nuclear Material, DOJ Alleges

Takeshi Ebisawa with a rocket launcher. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

The leader of a Japanese crime syndicate was charged with conspiring to traffic nuclear weapons from Burma to other countries, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. 

Takeshi Ebisawa, 60, is accused of trying to sell uranium and plutonium that he thought was going to Iran to build a nuclear bomb, federal prosecutors allege. 

A DEA agent was posing as a narcotics and weapons trafficker and claimed to have access to an Iranian general. 

Ebisawa, leader of Yakuza, provided samples of the material, and tests confirmed they contained uranium and weapons-grade plutonium, according to the DOJ. 

“It is chilling to imagine the consequences had these efforts succeeded and the Justice Department will hold accountable those who traffic in these materials and threaten U.S. national security and international stability,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement. 

Ebisawa is scheduled to appear in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Thursday. 

“As alleged, the defendants in this case trafficked in drugs, weapons, and nuclear material – going so far as to offer uranium and weapons-grade plutonium fully expecting that Iran would use it for nuclear weapons,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “This is an extraordinary example of the depravity of drug traffickers who operate with total disregard for human life.”

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