A Japanese Yakuza boss and three others have been arrested as part of a global scheme to buy missiles for Myanmar rebels in exchange for massive amounts of drugs, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Japanese citizen Takeshi Ebisawa, 57, brokered deals with an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent to ship US-made weapons to insurgent groups who paid with pounds of methamphetamine and heroin, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday.
The suspected traffickers planned to distribute the drugs in New York and supply heavy weapons like surface-to-air missiles to two militant groups engaged in ongoing violence in war-torn Burma, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said. noted.
“The drugs were destined for the streets of New York and the arms shipments were destined for factions in unstable countries,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“Members of this international crime syndicate can no longer endanger lives and will be brought to justice for their wrongful actions.”
Thai citizens Somphop Singhasiri, 58, Suksan “Bobby” Jullanan, 53, and Sompak Rukrasaranee, 55, were also arrested in connection with the scheme. Sinhasiri and Rikrasaranee are Thai citizens, while Jullanan is a Thai and American citizen, prosecutors said.
The four men were arrested Monday and Tuesday in Manhattan and are being held after their initial court appearances.
The DEA has been monitoring Ebisawa since at least 2019, saying he is a major player in drug and arms trafficking for the international criminal syndicate Yakuza. The screen discovery operation included an undercover agent meeting with members of the network in Japan, Thailand and elsewhere.
Ebisawa used the password “bamboo” to describe the weapons, which were to be supplied to the Shan State Army and Karen National Union ethnic groups, according to the complaint. Yakuza leader Jullanan and Rukrasaranee believed the weapons were stolen from two US military bases in Afghanistan, according to the complaint.
Ebisawa and Singhasiri planned to distribute 500 kilograms of methamphetamine and another 500 kilograms of heroin, according to the complaint.
Jullanan and Rukrasaranee face charges of conspiracy to import narcotics and conspiracy to acquire, transfer and possess surface-to-air missiles.
Ebisawa faces the same charges and an additional charge of money laundering.
Sinhasiri was charged with conspiracy to import narcotics and conspiracy to possess firearms.
New York Post