NEW YORK (AP) — Four men associated with a Japan-based crime syndicate known as the “yakuza” have been charged with trying to broker a deal to trade high-powered weapons for drugs with an agent undercover, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The men were arrested earlier this week in Manhattan after an undercover operation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Prosecutors said the DEA agent infiltrated the organization by posing as an arms dealer willing to trade surface-to-air missiles – presumably destined for warring factions in Myanmar – in exchange for methamphetamine and drugs. heroine destined for New York.
“The extensive 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.
The defendants first appeared in federal court in Manhattan, where they were held without bond, prosecutors said. A message was left with a lawyer for Takeshi Ebisawa, a Japanese national who was named as an alleged leader of the local crew.
Court documents describe the yakuza as an “international criminal network, which spans Japan, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and the United States.”
The newspapers added that the defendants who were allegedly seeking a deal with the DEA “understood that the weapons were manufactured in the United States and collected from U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and intended that the narcotics would be distributed on the market in New York. .”