Thursday, February 29, 2024

How to Spot An Imposter Social Security Social Media Account

Dawn Bystry, the Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications at the Social Security Administration, offers the below crime prevention tips:

Do you know how to spot fake Social Security social media accounts? The tips below will help you protect yourself and your family.

How fraudsters create imposter accounts

Fraudsters create imposter social media pages and accounts using Social Security-related images and jargon, making them appear as if they’re associated with or endorsed by us. They also create imposter social media pages of Social Security and OIG officials, such as the Commissioner or the Inspector General.

Protect your personally identifiable information

We will never ask for sensitive information through social media as these channels are not secure. Sometimes, users are asked to enter their financial information, Social Security number (SSN), or other sensitive information. This is a red flag, and often an indication of a fraudulent account.

How to spot a fake social media account

Identifying an imposter account may seem difficult at first, but there are a few things you can look for right away. You will want to focus on the following:

  • How many people follow the imposter page. In most cases, fake pages have a very low number of followers as compared to Social Security’s official page.
  • Improper punctuation.
  • Links to pages not on
  • Advertisements for forms or other Social Security documents.
  • Incorrect social media handle. To view the list of our official social media channels, we encourage you to visit our Social Media webpage.

Please report suspected Social Security imposter scams — and other Social Security fraud — to the OIG’s website. You can find more information about scams on our webpage, Protect Yourself from Scams.

Please share this information with your friends, family, and colleagues to help spread awareness about Social Security imposter scams.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A Look Back At James Clavell's 'Shogun'

I recorded the first two episodes of FX’s Shogun last night, and I plan to watch them this week.

I was a huge fan of the original Shogun miniseries in 1980, which starred Richard Chamberlain as John Blackthorne, the English sailor and ship’s pilot who lands in feudal Japan in 1600 and becomes involved in Japanese internecine warfare.

Previous to watching the 1980 miniseries, I read and enjoyed James Clavell’s historical novel Shogun, which the miniseries was based on.

Clavell (seen in the above photo), was a British Army officer and prisoner of war in WWII and spent years in a Japanese prison. Despite his brutal treatment, he was fascinated by the Japanese. His first novel, King Rat (made into a film starring George Segal), was based on his experiences as a Japanese prisoner.

Clavell began to write Shogun after he read about an English sailor named William Adams who traveled to Japan in 1600 and became an advisor to a Japanese warlord. Shogun is based loosely on Adams and his Japanese adventures.

Clavell, who was a screenwriter and film director as well as an author, served as an executive producer of the miniseries. He wanted Sean Connery to portray Blackthorne. He said he wrote the novel with Sean Connery in mind.

Sean Connery would have been a powerful Blackthorne, and this would have been one of his finest roles, but sadly Sean Connery was making a forgettable film and was not available. So Richard Chamberlain was cast, and he was very good in the role.

I’ve never seen Cosmo Jarvis (seen in the above photo) in any films or on TV, so I'm curious to see how his portrayal of Blackthorne in the new FX miniseries stacks up against Richard Chamberlain.           

I enjoyed the Shogun novel and the 1980 miniseries as I was and am most interested in Japan. My early interest in Japan came from stories my late father told me about his time as a U.S. Navy UDT frogman in WWII when he fought the Japanese on Saipan and other Japanese-held islands.

My interest in Japan increased in the early 1960s when I read Ian Fleming’s James Bond thriller You Only Live Twice. The novel took place in Japan and Fleming offered fascinating background information about modern Japan and Japanese customs and history. (James Clavell also read and enjoyed Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, especially Fleming's introduction of Ninjas to Western readers. Clavell used Ninjas in Shogun).

And I was thrilled to visit Sasebo and Nagasaki in Japan in 1971 when I was a young sailor serving on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.

So based on my interest and experiences in Japan, I eagerly read Shogun in 1975 and watched the miniseries (before VHS recording tapes and DVR devices were invented) in 1980.

James Clavell came under criticism by several historians who pointed out minor historical errors in his novel Shogun when it was published, and today the late author is being accused of racism for his stereotypical depictions of the Japanese.

Nonsense. Shogun is a fine historical adventure novel. 

I look forward to watching the new miniseries, and I'll probably reread James Clavell's novel afterwards.

Note: You can visit James Clavell’s website via the below link:

About the author — JAMES CLAVELL 

Monday, February 26, 2024

KGB Punch: With Every Murdered Enemy, Putin’s Grip On His Terrified People Grows Tighter

Ben Macintyre (seen in the below photo), the author of The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, and other fine books on spies and espionage, wrote a good column for the London Times on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s use of assassination.

The column also appeared in the Australian.

In Russian spy jargon, an assassination hit squad is known as a “Mercader”, after Ramon Mercader, the Spanish communist agent who buried an ice pick in Leon Trotsky’s head as he sat in his study in Mexico City. Mercader was declared a “Hero of the Soviet Union” on his release from prison 20 years later.

Today, Russia’s “Mercaders” are off the leash across the world: from the “Polar Wolf” gulag in the Russian Arctic, where the opposition leader Alexei Navalny was murdered last week, to the underground garage near Benidorm where the bullet-riddled body of the Russian defector Maxim Kuzminov was found a few days earlier.

The weapons deployed for traditional Russian “wet work” (mokroye delo) have changed over time: the ice pick that killed Trotsky and the poisoned umbrella tip that saw off the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov have given way to polonium (Alexander Litvinenko), novichok nerve agent (Sergei Skripal), the plunge from the balcony that ends the lives of so many of Vladimir Putin’s critics and enemies, or the spectacular air explosion that immolated the Wagner mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Navalny may have been killed by the notorious “KGB punch”, a lethal blow to the heart administered to a person already enfeebled by cold. 

But the idea remains the same: a theatrical symbolic act of state-sponsored homicide, to send a warning to other would-be opponets, cow the Russian populace and stun the world with its brazen brutality, all suffused with just enough mystery for a shrugging Kremlin denial.

Stalin saw assassination as integral to his foreign policy, the external expression of the Great Terror: dissidents, defectors, spies, ideological heretics, all were potential targets. In 1942 the military intelligence section of the Red Army established a specialised unit to liquidate “anti-Soviet elements”.

Stalin named it Smersh, merging the Russian words smert meaning death and shpionam meaning spies: “death to spies”. As a wartime intelligence officer, Ian Fleming learnt of Smersh, and incorporated it into his James Bond novels.

Putin has gone still further in performative, staged acts of murder. The killings are now preceded by a statement of the assassin’s philosophy, the promise of revenge.

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

Putin’s reign of terror: With every murdered enemy, his grip on his brutalised people grows tighter | The Australian

Note: I quoted Ben Macintyre in my Washington Times review of From Russia With Blood:

“If the idea of a ruthless spy-killing unit sounds like the stuff of fiction, that’s because it became precisely that,” Ben Macintyre wrote in his Times column. “In the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming portrayed Smersh (director of operations: Rosa Klebb) as a massive counterintelligence network that more closely resembled the KGB.”

Ben Macintyre wrote that the real SMERSH was effective in not only murdering Soviet traitors (some of whom were undoubtedly innocent, he noted), but SMERSH also instilled terror among potential enemies and enforced obedience in Soviet citizens.

“And now it is back, with a new name and a new remit but essentially the same purpose: to put the fear of God, and assassination, into Russia’s enemies, traitors and deserters,” Mr. Macintyre wrote. “According to intelligence sources, Unit 29155 is an elite sub-unit of GRU assassins that operated out of the Haute-Savoie in the French Alps, conducting a variety of wet jobs across Europe: notably the attempted poisoning in Salisbury of GRU officer-turned-MI6 spy Sergei Skripal, and the attempt to kill a Bulgarian arms dealer in 2015.”

In Ian Fleming’s classic 1957 thriller "From Russia With Love,” James Bond was the target of a SMERSH plot to assassinate him and discredit British intelligence in a scandal. SMERSH sent out from Russia a psychopath assassin named Red Grant to kill Bond. Ian Fleming admitted that his plots were fantastic, but he also said they often lifted the tip of the veil to reveal the real world of espionage. 

Heidi Blake’s “From Russia With Blood” (a clever take on Ian Fleming’s “From Russia With Love” title), lifts the veil off a series of murders in the United Kingdom and places blame squarely on Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:  

Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'From Russia With Blood: The Kremlin's Ruthless Assassination Program And Vladimir Putin's Secret War On The West'

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Three Former Philadelphia Local 98 Employees Sentenced For Illegal Use Of Union Assets

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Michael Neill, 57, Marita Crawford, 54, and Niko Rodriguez, 32, all of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were sentenced this week by United States District Court Judge Jeffrey Schmehl. The defendants, all former employees of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“Local 98”), had previously pleaded guilty to stealing Local 98 funds for their personal use.

Michael Neill had served as the Training Director of Local 98’s Apprentice Training Fund since 2008. In December 2022, he pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzlement of labor union assets, one count of theft from a union employee benefit plan, and one count of making and subscribing to a false federal income tax return. As part of his guilty plea, Neill admitted having Local 98 and the Apprentice Training Fund pay for construction and maintenance work at his home, at Doc’s Union Pub, of which he was a part owner, and other personal properties by causing the submission of false invoices from May 2013 through December 2015.

Neill was sentenced to 13 months in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $10,000, and a mandatory special assessment of $600. Neill was ordered to pay restitution of $92,733.67 and to forfeit the sum of $25,259.29.

Marita Crawford had served as Local 98’s Political Director since November 2011. In December 2022, she pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, which involved using her Local 98 credit card to pay for personal expenses for the benefit of herself and others, and, for some of the illegal expenditures, submitting false business-related explanations of the expenses to the union to disguise the illegal nature of the transactions. Crawford also admitted illegally using money from a political action committee (PAC) called “New Gen1,” funded primarily by contributions from Local 98’s committee on political education (“COPE”) and by the IBEW’s similar fund in Washington, D.C., for personal purchases for herself and others. 

Crawford was sentenced to 15 days in prison followed by three months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, a fine of $2,000 and a mandatory special assessment of $400. She was ordered to pay restitution of $11,903 and to forfeit the sum of $2,777.63.

Niko Rodriguez was employed by Local 98’s Apprentice Training Fund and by Local 98 since 2011, primarily serving as a driver and personal assistant to Local 98’s Business Manager, codefendant John Dougherty. In December 2022, he pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzlement of labor union assets. As part of his guilty plea, Rodriguez admitted using Local 98 credit cards to purchase personal goods for himself and Dougherty.

Rodriguez was sentenced to three years’ probation, 80 hours of community service, a fine of $5,000, and a mandatory special assessment of $600. He was ordered to pay restitution of $13,491 and to forfeit the sum of $1,079.55.

“In using Local 98 funds to pay for personal expenses, these defendants broke the law, and they stole from the union’s rank and file,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Every one of those hardworking members needs to be able to trust that the dues they dutifully pay are in fact being used for the union’s benefit, as intended. When that doesn’t happen, when money is unlawfully misdirected, we and our partners won’t hesitate to step in and hold those responsible to account.”

“Investigating public corruption is a priority of the FBI and this includes ensuring the integrity of labor organizations and protecting the workers who trust them.” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia. “These individuals betrayed the electrical union’s members, those who rely on them to work with their best interest in mind, not out of greed. The FBI and our partners will continue to investigate and hold accountable those that pocket organizational funds for personal profit.”

“IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to have provided its financial expertise in this investigation,” said Yury Kruty, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “We, along with our law enforcement partners and the Department of Justice, will continue to aggressively investigate individuals who engage in money laundering, tax fraud, or other types of white-collar crimes.”

“Neill’s sentencing sends an important message to all those entrusted with protecting benefit plan assets. Regardless of title or position, the U.S. Department of Labor will hold fiduciaries to the highest standards of accountability to protect the employee benefits of America’s workers,” said U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration Regional Director Cristina O’Brien in Philadelphia.

“Most union officials and employees do their work with great care, but union employees Michael Neill, Marita Crawford and Niko Rodriguez betrayed the trust and confidence placed in them by members of IBEW Local 98,” said U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards Acting District Director Nicole Spallino in Philadelphia. “We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify criminal violations and pursue legal action when individuals unlawfully exploit their union positions at the expense of the union and its members.”

Sentencing hearings for codefendants Brian Fiocca, who pleaded guilty in December 2022, as well as codefendants Brian Burrows and John Dougherty, who were convicted at trial in December 2023, are scheduled for March, April, and May 2024, respectively.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frank Costello, Bea Witzleben, Richard Barrett, Jason Grenell, and Anthony Carissimi.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Japan-Based U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Charged with Espionage

Sam LaGrone at the USNI News offers a piece on the Navy chief petty officer charged with espionage.

A sailor assigned to a guided-missile destroyer based in Japan has been charged with espionage and communicating defense information to a foreign citizen, according to the charge sheet obtained by USNI News on Wednesday.

Chief Petty Officer Fire Controlman Bryce Pedicini (seen in the above photo), assigned to the Japan-based destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76), was set to face a general court-martial this week, Navy officials said.

“A sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) is suspected of mishandling classified documents and information. The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue,” reads a statement from a U.S. Naval Surface Force spokesperson.

The Navy is accusing Pedicini of smuggling classified information from secure spaces and giving them to an employee of an unspecified foreign government between late November 2022 to February 2023 in Hampton Roads, Va. The type of information Pedicini is accused of sharing was unclear from the charging documents, which also allege that he attempted to pass on photos, including those of a computer screen designated to handle secret information, to a foreign national while in Yokosuka, Japan.

Based on the charging documents, Pedicini was arrested shortly after the attempted espionage incident in Japan. According to the charging documents, Pedicni has been in pre-trial confinement since May 19, or for more than nine months.

The charges were referred for a general court-martial on Jan. 18, with the U.S. Naval Surface Force as the convening authority.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Japan-Based Chief Petty Officer Charged with Espionage - USNI News

Note: Above is a U.S. Navy photo of the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins.

A Little Humor: Enjoying A Cigar Onboard A Navy Tugboat At The U.S. Nuclear Submarine Base At Holy Loch, Scotland

As I write this in my comfortable book-lined basement office, I’m sitting at my desk and enjoying a good cup of coffee and a fine cigar. 

I’ve never smoked cigarettes, as I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and we were told that smoking cigarettes would rob us of our valuable second wind. (Although some professional boxers smoke crack these days). 

But I’ve enjoyed cigars for many years, going back to my early 20s. 

I recall when I was a young man serving in the U.S. Navy back in 1975 and stationed on the USS Saugus (YTB-780), a 100-foot-long Navy harbor tugboat assigned to the U.S. Navy’s "Site One" nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. 

Having previously served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, I had to adjust from serving on one of the world’s largest warships to one of the smallest. 

Although I was not thrilled with Scotland’s awful winter weather, especially when the tugboat was ordered out into the Irish Sea to meet with submarines and we encountered 50-foot waves and Gale Force winds, I generally liked serving on a small boat with a small crew. 

I also recall how I often enjoyed smoking a cigar out on the tugboat’s deck while gazing out to the sea.  

Stationed on the USS Natick, the other assigned tugboat to Holy Loch, was a big and burly West Virginia hillbilly named Joe Marks. He was quite a character and we enjoyed cutting each other up. It became something of a rivalry. 

He took my sarcastic asides in good humor, and he sometimes gave as good as he got. 

One morning he tried to rile the Saugus' chief and get to me.

Most of the crew were afraid of the Saugus’ chief, an odd, humorless man who rarely spoke, but when angered he would bark orders with a powerful voice that made most errant sailors shake. 

With his aloof and taciturn manner and a deadpan face, he reminded me of the silent film comic Buster Keaton.

I called him “Chief Cool,” and the nickname stuck. 

Marks saw the chief sitting with us and drinking coffee in the galley that morning. 

“Morning, Chief Cool. How are ya?” 

The guys in the galley were shocked that Marks would address the feared chief as “Chief Cool.” 

The chief ignored him. 

“Did you know that Davis started everyone calling you Chief Cool?" 

There was dead silence in the galley. Then, quite unexpectedly, the chief looked at me and smiled. 

I don't think anyone had ever seen him smile before. He got up and left the galley without saying a word. 

Everyone laughed. Apparently, the chief thought the nickname was complimentary. 

Marks was taken aback, but he later tried to get the better of me. 

The weather that day was nice for a change, and I took a break from my supply petty officer duties and stepped out on the deck and lit a cigar. 

Some of the crew were also on deck smoking cigarettes. Marks came out and saw me with my cigar and he laughed and pointed at me. 

“Don’t you feel old smoking that cigar?” 

“No,” I replied. “I feel – prosperous.” 

This got a laugh from a couple of guys, and as Marks probably didn’t know what prosperous meant, he had to come back with a good zinger. 

“It looks like you’re smoking a big ole dick,” he said with a laugh. 

I took a long draw on the cigar and replied, “I would prefer to think of it as a woman’s elongated nipple.” 

I got the bigger laugh.

Note: You can also read my post on Holy Loch via the below link: 

Paul Davis On Crime: Site One: A Look Back At The American Nuclear Submarine Base At Holy Loch, Scotland

Twenty-Five Charged In Indictment Targeting Philadelphia Drug Trafficking Organization

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of West Virginia, released the below information:

On CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Twenty-five people have been charged in a case targeting a Philadelphia-based organization that was supplying large amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine to North Central West Virginia.

United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld announced the unsealing of an indictment and the arrests of individuals in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and West Virginia on drug trafficking charges. According to court documents, Rodney Johnson, age 46, of Philadelphia, was the leader of a group that was supplying significant quantities of illicit drugs to Monongalia County. The organization’s members utilized apartments in Morgantown in which to reside and store their drugs.

“The indictment and subsequent arrests have led to the dismantling of a sophisticated operation that was causing large quantities of dangerous drugs to be distributed in our region,” said U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld. “The work of our agents and prosecutors in this matter has made our communities safer and shows the reach that we have when it comes to the disruption of drug trafficking.”

“I want to highlight the collective efforts of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to dismantle a criminal enterprise who was intent on flooding our communities with this poison,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek. “An investigation of this size requires partnership and teamwork. The result of this operation is a testament to the power of partnership and the FBI’s commitment to curb violence in our communities.”

Law enforcement arrested 22 people in a coordinated effort across the four states. Investigators are still searching for:

  • Rodney Johnson, age 46, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Ryan Shaw, age 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Rasheab Bradsher, age 47, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zelda Wesley is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

This case was investigated by the Mon Metro Drug Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative. The task force consists of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the West Virginia State Police; the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office; the Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; the Morgantown Police Department; the WVU Police Department; the Granville Police Department; and the Star City Police Department.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

An indictment is merely an allegation, and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Justice Department Announces Nuclear Materials Trafficking Charges Against Japanese Yakuza Leader Takeshi Ebisawa,


The U.S. Justice Department released the below information and photo.

A superseding indictment was unsealed in Manhattan today charging a Japanese national with conspiring with a network of associates to traffic nuclear materials from Burma to other countries.

According to court documents, Takeshi Ebisawa, 60, and co-defendant Somphop Singhasiri, 61, were previously charged in April 2022 with international narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses, and both have been ordered detained.

“The defendant stands accused of conspiring to sell weapons grade nuclear material and lethal narcotics from Burma, and to purchase military weaponry on behalf of an armed insurgent group,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “It is chilling to imagine the consequences had these efforts succeeded and the Justice Department will hold accountable those who traffic in these materials and threaten U.S. national security and international stability.”

“As alleged, the defendant brazenly trafficked material containing uranium and weapons-grade plutonium from Burma to other countries,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “He did so while believing that the material was going to be used in the development of a nuclear weapons program, and while also negotiating for the purchase of deadly weapons. It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of this conduct. I want to thank the career prosecutors of my office and our law enforcement partners for ensuring that the defendant will now face justice in an American court.”      

“As alleged, the defendants in this case trafficked in drugs, weapons, and nuclear material – going so far as to offer uranium and weapons-grade plutonium fully expecting that Iran would use it for nuclear weapons,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “This is an extraordinary example of the depravity of drug traffickers who operate with total disregard for human life. I commend the men and women of DEA and this prosecution team for their tireless work to protect us from such evil.”  

According to the allegations contained in the indictment, beginning in early 2020, Ebisawa informed UC-1 and a DEA confidential source (CS-1) that Ebisawa had access to a large quantity of nuclear materials that he wanted to sell. Later that year, Ebisawa sent UC-1 a series of photographs depicting rocky substances with Geiger counters measuring radiation, as well as pages of what Ebisawa represented to be lab analyses indicating the presence of thorium and uranium in the depicted substances. In response to Ebisawa’s repeated inquiries, UC-1 agreed, as part of the DEA’s investigation, to help Ebisawa broker the sale of his nuclear materials to UC-1’s associate, who was posing as an Iranian general (the General), for use in a nuclear weapons program. Ebisawa then offered to supply the General with “plutonium” that would be even “better” and more “powerful” than uranium for this purpose. 

During their discussions regarding Ebisawa’s access to nuclear materials, Ebisawa also engaged with UC-1 concerning Ebisawa’s desire to purchase military-grade weapons. To that end, in May 2021, Ebisawa sent UC-1 a list of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, that Ebisawa wished to purchase from UC-1 on behalf of the leader of an ethnic insurgent group in Burma (CC-1).  Together with two other co-conspirators (CC-2 and CC-3), Ebisawa proposed to UC-1 that CC-1 sell uranium to the General, through Ebisawa, to fund CC-1’s weapons purchase. On a Feb.4, 2022 videoconference, CC-2 told UC-1 that CC-1 had available more than 2,000 kilograms of Thorium-232 and more than 100 kilograms of uranium in the compound U3O8 — referring to a compound of uranium commonly found in the uranium concentrate powder known as “yellowcake” — and that CC-1 could produce as much as five tons of nuclear materials in Burma. CC-2 also advised that CC-1 had provided samples of the uranium and thorium, which CC-2 was prepared to show to UC-1’s purported buyers. CC-2 noted that the samples should be packed “to contain . . . the radiation.” 

About one week later, Ebisawa, CC-2 and CC-3 participated in a series of meetings with UC-1 and CS-1 in Southeast Asia to discuss their ongoing weapons, narcotics, and nuclear materials transactions. During one of these meetings, CC-2 asked UC-1 to meet in CC-2’s hotel room.  Inside the room, CC-2 showed UC-1 two plastic containers, each holding a powdery yellow substance (the Nuclear Samples), which CC-2 described as “yellowcake.” CC-2 advised that one container held a sample of uranium in the compound U3O8, and the other container held Thorium-232. 

With the assistance of Thai authorities, the Nuclear Samples were seized and subsequently transferred to the custody of U.S. law enforcement authorities. A U.S. nuclear forensic laboratory examined the Nuclear Samples and determined that both samples contain detectable quantities of uranium, thorium and plutonium. 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. 

A table containing the charges and maximum penalties for Ebisawa and Singhasiri is set forth below. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.



Maximum Penalty

Count One: conspiracy to commit international trafficking of nuclear materials


20 years in prison

Count Two: international trafficking of nuclear materials


10 years in prison

Count Three: narcotics importation conspiracy

Ebisawa and Singhasiri

Life in prison; mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison

Count Four: conspiracy to possess firearms, including machineguns and destructive devices


Life in prison

Count Five: conspiracy to acquire, transfer, and possess surface-to-air missiles.


Life in prison; mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison

Count Six: narcotics importation conspiracy


Life in prison; mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison

Count Seven: conspiracy to possess firearms, including machine guns and destructive devices


Life in prison

Count Eight: money laundering


20 years in prison

The DEA Special Operations Division Bilateral Investigations Unit is investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the DEA Tokyo Country Office, DEA Bangkok Country Office, DEA Chiang Mai Resident Office, DEA Jakarta Country Office, DEA Copenhagen Country Office, DEA New York Field Office, DEA New Delhi Country Office, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and law enforcement partners in Indonesia, Japan and the Kingdom of Thailand.

Trial Attorney Dmitry Slavin of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Li, Kaylan E. Lasky and Kevin T. Sullivan for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Note: The above U.S. Justice Department photo shows Takeshi Ebisawa handling a rocket launcher at a meeting with undercover agents.