back to article Japanese Yakuza boss charged with nuclear trafficking by the US

A Japanese Yakuza leader is being charged with trafficking nuclear materials by US prosecutors. The defendant, Takeshi Ebisawa, was previously charged in April 2022 with narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses but has been ordered to be detained over a conspiracy to traffic nuclear materials from Myanmar to other countries …

  1. Catkin Silver badge

    "weapons-grade plutonium"

    From the linked report:

    In particular, the laboratory determined that the isotope composition of the plutonium found in the Nuclear Samples is weapons-grade, meaning that the plutonium, if produced in sufficient quantities, would be suitable for use in a nuclear weapon.

    That sounds like a far cry from material ready for a primary, it could just as easily be a barrel of spent reactor fuel. All 'weapons-grade' means in this context is Pu-239, as opposed to other isotopes and reprocessing is job and a half. It would be interesting to know if it also contained Pu-240 but I have my doubts they'll release this information.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "weapons-grade plutonium"

      It doesn't have to usable in a weapon at all to serve as a baseline reference for refining and research.

      Which is still a very, very, very bad thing.

      1. Catkin Silver badge

        Re: "weapons-grade plutonium"

        Could you please expand on your concerns for "refining and research"? It's a bit of a rabbit hole, since we don't explicitly know it's spent fuel but, personally and not as someone who works in that field, I don't view bad people acquiring nuclear waste as significantly worse than them acquiring, for example, a similar quantity of radiotherapy sources. However, I'm still very interested to hear another perspective on this.

        I would be more concerned by them acquiring yellowcake because, based on my understanding, it's easier to start from scratch with a pile than it is to recover isotopes. This is why fuel reprocessing is controversial - it takes a large amount of investment and sophistication to recover 239 from spent fuel because it's such an appalling mix of isotopes with much more complex recovery chemistries than fuel which has been bred specifically for the purpose of Pu-239 production.

        1. Lyndication

          Re: "weapons-grade plutonium"

          I assume the worry includes "dirty bomb" ideas rather than building a fission device. A barrel of nuclear waste would be a horrendous thing to detonate in a city.

          1. Catkin Silver badge

            Re: "weapons-grade plutonium"

            That's definitely a worry but I don't place it as appreciably worse than the same bad guy doing it with radiotherapy sources, which can have orders less security and accounting. Even worse, there's still likely ex-Soviet RTGs sitting around (in and outside of Russia) that have no extant records for them. The 'refining' and 'research' bit makes me think they meant something else.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    What if he had unclear examples of wheat puns and photo of someone pouting at onion and that triggered some gaydar counters?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Misunderstanding

      Are you having a stroke? Do you need medical assistance?

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Misunderstanding

        Wheat puns of mast construction are a serious matter!

    2. HuBo

      Re: Misunderstanding

      The smoke-filled room was poorly lit, but what I heard did sound like "Komugi no dajare no yoku wakaranai rei ga a" (小麦のダジャレのよくわからない例があ), but with a Yakuza accent ...

  3. Red Sceptic


    Luigi Vercotti. : So I decided to set up a high-class night club for the gentry at Biggleswade. With international cuisine and cooking and top line acts. And not a cheap clip-joint for picking up tarts, that was right out, I deny that completely. And one evening, Dinsdale walks in with a couple of big lads. One of whom was carrying a tactical nuclear missile. They said I'd bought one of their fruit machines and would I pay for it?

    Second Interviewer : How much did they want?

    Luigi Vercotti. : Three quarters of a million pounds. And they went out.

    Second Interviewer : Why didn't you call for the police?

    Luigi Vercotti. : Well I noticed that the fellow with the thermonuclear device was the chief constable for the area. Anyway, a week later, they came back, said that the cheque had bounced and that I had to see... Doug.

    1. DJ

      Re: Dinsdale

      Have an upvote for trip down memory lane.

      Just don't use any sarcasm...

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Rut roh

    He's gone for life.

    But so is anyone even remotely involved with this. He'll get off with just a prison sentence. His cohorts will probably just disappear in "accidents". Interpol takes a very dim view of this as well.

    And the relevant Japanes government agencies are also in deep, deep shit. Mt. Fuji level of deep shit. Keep an eye out for many changes and odd stories of the Japanese government in the future.

    The U.S. does not, repeat, DOES NOT fuck around with nuclear weapons shenanigans. Just ask those 6 dead airman the last time a nuclear weapon was accidentally sent to another base just within the U.S. Accidental deaths, of course. Their COs were lucky to live. That little mistake cost a LOT of people their jobs and retirements.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Rut roh

      I see five people have the same grasp of the gravity of this disaster as the gangster did.

  5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Interpol takes a very dim view of this as well.

    Interpol is just an information exchange.

    This isn't the Da Vinci Code, they don't have teams of officers investigating crime all over the world.

    They employ 1,081 people <a href=">link to Interpol careers website</a>.

    273 of their staff are police officers on secondment from member governments, and the rest are civil servants employed by them.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Interpol is just an information exchange.

      Yes. Exactly. But I would not say, just. It's bit more than "just" a clearinghouse for wanted posters.

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