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Trafficking Nuclear Materials Allegations


NEW YORK — In a shocking turn of events, U.S. prosecutors have accused a leader of a Japan-based crime syndicate of conspiring to traffic uranium and plutonium from Myanmar with the belief that Iran would utilize these materials for the production of nuclear weapons.

Sting Operation Reveals Startling Details

Takeshi Ebisawa, aged 60, along with his associates, reportedly presented samples of nuclear substances that had been smuggled from Myanmar to Thailand to an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration. This agent, who was posing as a trafficker of narcotics and weapons with ties to an Iranian general, was shown these materials. Subsequently, the nuclear substances were seized, and further analysis confirmed the presence of uranium and weapons-grade plutonium.

Disturbing Indifference to Human Life

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram expressed her concern in a statement, stating, “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.” This highlights the reckless nature of these criminal activities and their disregard for human life.

Origins of the Nuclear Material

According to prosecutors, the nuclear material originated from an unidentified leader of an “ethnic insurgent group” in Myanmar, who had been involved in mining uranium within the country. It is alleged that Ebisawa suggested to this leader to sell uranium through him in order to procure weapons from the Iranian general as funding.

Allegations Against Insurgent Leader

Prosecutors claim that the insurgent leader provided samples that were found to contain uranium, thorium, and weapons-grade plutonium. The plutonium’s isotope composition was deemed suitable for use in a nuclear weapon.

Arrests and Charges

Ebisawa, alleged leader of a Japan-based crime syndicate, was one of four individuals arrested in Manhattan during a DEA sting operation in April 2022. He remains in jail awaiting trial and faces charges related to the international trafficking of nuclear materials, conspiracy, and other counts.

Statements from U.S. Attorney

According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Ebisawa trafficked the materials from Myanmar to various countries with the belief that they would be utilized in developing a nuclear weapons program. Williams highlighted that the weapons-grade plutonium trafficked by Ebisawa could have been used for such purposes. Additionally, while engaging in the sale of nuclear materials, Ebisawa was reportedly negotiating the purchase of deadly weapons like surface-to-air missiles.

Legal Proceedings

The defendants, including Ebisawa, are set to be arraigned in federal court in Manhattan.

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