Gang Leader Indicted for Trafficking Nuclear Material from Burma: Latest Updates and News

2024-02-22 04:01:00

American justice announced on Wednesday that it had indicted a leader of a gang of yakuzas – members of organized crime syndicates in Japan – for trafficking in nuclear material from Burma.

Takeshi Ebisawa, described as a “leader of the yakuza organized crime syndicate”, is also accused of having tried to resell this material in order to finance an illegal purchase of weapons for the benefit of a group of insurgents from Burma, whose name is not specified.

According to the indictment unveiled in a Manhattan court, he had already been charged alongside Somhop Singhasiri in April 2022 for arms trafficking and both had been placed in pre-trial detention.

They are “accused of having conspired to sell nuclear material for military use and deadly narcotics from Burma, and to purchase military weapons for the benefit of an armed insurgent group,” said Matthew Olsen , senior official at the US Department of Justice.

“It is chilling to imagine the consequences if these attempts had succeeded,” he said.

Prosecutors say Takeshi Ebisawa “brazenly” moved material containing military-grade uranium and plutonium, as well as drugs, from Burma.

Starting in 2020, he bragged to an undercover agent that he had access to vast quantities of nuclear material and was looking to sell them. Takeshi Ebisawa provided photos of the equipment alongside Geiger counters, which measure radioactivity.

In a flagrant operation involving undercover agents, authorities in Thailand helped US investigators seize yellow powdery substances described by the accused as “yellowcake”, or uranium concentrate.

An American laboratory has “determined that the isotopic composition of the plutonium discovered in the nuclear samples is of military quality, meaning that the plutonium — if produced in sufficient quantity — would be suitable for use in a nuclear weapon,” states the press release from the Ministry of Defense. Justice.

One of the accused alongside Takeshi Ebisawa allegedly claimed to have at his disposal more than two tons of Thorium-232 and more than 100 kg of uranium “compound U308”, a uranium compound usually present in “yellowcake”.

He faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for attempting to acquire surface-to-air missiles and up to 20 years in prison for international trafficking in nuclear material.

The trial date is not yet known.

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