Alleged Crime Boss Charged by U.S. for Attempted Trafficking of Weapons-grade Nuclear Material

U.S. Magistrate Judge/Southern District of New York/Handout via REUTERS.
Takeshi Ebisawa poses with a rocket launcher during a meeting with an informant and two undercover Danish police officers at a warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark February 3, 2021, in a photograph from a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) criminal complaint.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that it had indicted Japanese national Takeshi Ebisawa and a Thai national for allegedly attempting to traffic uranium and plutonium, materials that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Ebisawa, 60, allegedly had been trying since 2020 to make a deal with an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent to sell uranium to an Iranian general, according to the DOJ announcement and other documents. He had proposed that an insurgent group in Myanmar sell the uranium through him to fund a weapons purchase.

U.S. authorities analyzed a sample that Ebisawa used for the deal, and confirmed it contained uranium, thorium and plutonium.

Prior to this case, Ebisawa was indicted for attempting to broker a deal between a Myanmar insurgent group and a weapons and illegal drugs dealer in April 2022. The U.S. authority describes Ebisawa as “a leader of the Japanese Yakuza crime syndicate.”