Japanese Crime Boss Trafficked Nuclear Material From Myanmar, U.S. Says

A man identified by federal prosecutors as a leader of Japan’s Yakuza organized crime syndicate was charged on Wednesday with trafficking uranium and plutonium from Myanmar with the expectation that Iran would use the material to make nuclear weapons.

The man, Takeshi Ebisawa, is accused of conspiring with a network of associates to sell the weapons-grade material and illegal narcotics and to buy surface-to-air missiles on behalf of an ethnic insurgent group in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.

“It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of the conduct alleged in today’s indictment,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in announcing the charges.

Mr. Ebisawa, 60, is being held in a federal jail in Brooklyn after being charged, along with three co-defendants, with international drug and weapons trafficking crimes in 2022. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. A lawyer representing him in connection with that indictment did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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