US authorities have charged a leader of Japan’s Yakuza organized crime syndicate with conspiring to traffic nuclear materials from Burma to Iran.

Takeshi Ebisawa, a 60, and his co-defendant Somphop Singhasiri, 61, “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,” Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in a statement on February 21.

“This is an extraordinary example of the depravity of drug traffickers who operate with total disregard for human life,” Milgram added.

The nuclear materials came from an unidentified leader of an “ethnic insurgent group” in Burma, also known as Myanmar, who had been mining uranium in the country, according to the Justice Department.

It said that the materials were transported to Thailand to an undercover DEA agent posing as a narcotics and weapons trafficker who had access to an Iranian general.

US officials allege that Ebisawa had proposed that the insurgent leader sell uranium through him in order to buy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, from the general.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Ebisawa and Singhasiri had been charged in 2022 with international narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses.

They could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Source » iranwire