US authorities arrest alleged Japanese crime family member accused of trafficking drugs and missiles
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US authorities arrest alleged Japanese crime family member accused of trafficking drugs and missiles

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the US Drug Enforcement Agency announced Thursday that they had arrested four men accused of international narcotics and weapons trafficking offenses.

Three of the men were Thai nationals, but Takeshi Ebisawa is a Japanese national who US authorities allege is a part of the Yakuza, a network of highly-organized crime families based in Japan that operate around the world. In a press release, the DEA said they had been investigating Ebisawa since 2019. They allege that he was introduced to an undercover DEA agent who was posing as a narcotics and weapons trafficker. Ebisawa and his associates allegedly sought to sell 500 kilograms of methamphetamine and 500 kilograms of heroin in the United States. In exchange, he sought to purchase US-made surface-to-air missiles and other heavy-duty weapons from the undercover DEA agent, with the intent of distributing these to ethnic armed groups in Burma. Ebisawa and two other men were arrested on Monday, the fourth man was arrested on Tuesday; all were arrested in Manhattan.

“The expansive reach of transnational criminal networks, like the Yakuza, presents a serious threat to the safety and health of all communities,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement. “Ebisawa and his associates intended to distribute hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin to the United States, using deadly weapons to enable their criminal activities, at a time when nearly 300 Americans lose their lives to drug overdose every day.”

The men are collectively facing six counts, including narcotics importation conspiracy; conspiracy to possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices; conspiracy to acquire, transfer, and possess (surface-to-air missiles); narcotics importation conspiracy; conspiracy to possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices; and money laundering. Aside from money laundering, all counts carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.