US arrests Japanese yakuza leader over alleged missiles-for-heroin plot
Takeshi Ebisawa accused of planning to purchase surface-to-air missiles for rebel groups in Myanmar and distribute drugs in US
US authorities have arrested a leader of a Japanese crime syndicate on charges of plotting to distribute drugs in the United States and purchase weapons including US-made surface-to-air missiles.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Takeshi Ebisawa, who they described as a leader in a network of Japanese crime families known as yakuza, and a co-conspirator agreed to buy the missiles for rebel groups in Myanmar during conversations with an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
The weapons were intended to protect drug shipments, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday. Ebisawa planned to distribute heroin and methamphetamine in the United States, prosecutors said.
Since 2019, US authorities have been investigating Ebisawa’s drug and weapons-dealing network, which reaches from Japan, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, and the United States,the justice department said in a statement.
Ebisawa, 57, and three co-conspirators were detained in Manhattan this week on charges including narcotics importation conspiracy and conspiracy to possess firearms, prosecutors said. A lawyer for Ebisawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Each of the four co-conspirators face maximum sentences of life imprisonment.
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