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Special Report: Help Wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks, and gangsters

In reviewing Fukushima working conditions, Reuters interviewed more than 80 workers, employers and officials involved in the unprecedented nuclear clean-up. A common complaint: the project's dependence on a sprawling and little scrutinized network of subcontractors - many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some of them, police say, have ties to organized crime.
I reported on the Yakuza connection to TEPCO's Fukuppy nuclear reservation at Daiichi in late 2011 - TEPCO and the Nuclear Mafia. I link that diary to demonstrate that Japan's organized criminal element - known as the Yakuza - got into the act at Daiichi early on... almost as if they'd been there all along. And that this connection has been known by all involved and reported in the press.

So it's not like the connections reported in this Reuters special report are anything new. Some people in government, corporations (TEPCO and their contractors/subcontractors all the way down) and organized crime are making Big Bucks off the triple meltdown nuclear disaster. The workers, on the other hand, are just being abused and tossed aside.

Buhrman LandonBrittain

[Pictured: Michael Buhrman and Landon Brittain]

But just for fun, today I want to link readers to The Saga of Michael Buhrman and Landon Brittain from Enformable. These are the two Senior Reactor Operators from Exelon's Dresden nuclear plant southwest of Chicago. And a very strange saga it is!

I introduced this pair of desperadoes here at DKos in a diary this past July, Homegrown Desperadoes: Two More. Enformable's latest on the pair has drawn connections and affiliations not previously known to the public. Seems the two wannabe Criminal Masterminds were able to make use of connections Brittain had to South American organized crime syndicates in Venezuela and Chili. They also had ready access to hundreds of thousands of dollars from off-shore accounts to finance their life of crime.

The two were arrested on charges of armed hijacking of a vehicle in Joliet and eventually released on bail to house arrest. They then escaped to Venezuela with the help of Venezuelan racketeer Jonnathan Morales, aka Jesus 'Jay' Sira. Where they immediately got involved in a scheme to smuggle cash and steroids into the South American nation as "nutritional supplements" funneled through the island of St. Barts. Buhrman and Brittain expanded to the smuggling of motorcycles, televisions and electronic devices in shipping containers through the same pipeline.

After arriving in Venezuela, Buhrman and Brittain rented a luxury property, frequented a local gym, and were associated with a Venezuelan gang known for forging IDs, possessing stolen automobiles and motorcycles, hijacking, fraud, money laundering, extortion, trade of illegal substances (mostly steroids), weapons, among other crimes.
Buhrman seems to have been the smarter of the two, and is still awaiting extradition to the U.S. at this time. Brittain, apparently a slave to his steroids and sex habits, got greedy and careless. It's an old story. Seems he spilled the beans by bragging to a workout partner at the gym, who turned the desperadoes in. Brittain was captured at the gym and was returned to the U.S. 8 weeks later. Buhrman was arrested a bit later, and is being retained by Venezuelan police and intelligence service [SEBIN] on a terrorism charge to aid in their ongoing investigation of organized crime in that country.

Anyway, I thought some here might enjoy a twisted tale of international criminal intrigue - complete with the requisite sexual encounters - that includes direct and indirect connections to big time nuclear players in two of the three nations listed. To once again highlight the fact that when someone mentions the infamous 'Nuclear Mafia', they could very well be talking about real connections to organized crime. Happy reading!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Quick Update... (6+ / 0-)

    There was a 7.3 earthquake this afternoon offshore 170 miles from Fukushima. The tsunami is not expected to be very big. TEPCO has evacuated workers in the area of the 4 blasted reactors to higher ground, no reports of damage yet, but the place is a rickety wreck sitting in a bottomless mud pit with not one but two typhoons heading in at the same time.


    NHK English

    •  Unbelievable! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, Joieau, pvasileff

      Joieau.  Great diary. Those men will be removed from general society I hope.  Crazy, crazy world!

      You will love this site for tracking cyclones/hurricanes

      Open the site and see map of world at top.  Look for the yellow "blade looking" icons.  click on one.  Then look on the left side and click on MIMIC.  You will see real time progression.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 12:34:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, WoE. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error

        They're not saying much at this point about possible damage. LiveCam possible smoke from the area of units 5 & 6. There are mudslide warnings in the area, rain and wind. Hopefully the bigger storm will track east as predicted.

  •  gumi = yakuza (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, Jim P

    The word means "family" and some yakuza are still listed on the stock exchange. Most of the listed companies are in construction.

    Kumagai gumi stock listing

    sympathetic documentary about Kumagai Gumi crime family

    Since nuclear plants are the biggest construction projects, no surprise to see the families involved

    anyone dare to edit the wikipedia page?

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 02:37:11 PM PDT

  •  Yakuza is organized crime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but more than organized crime. If you go back to the Meiji Restoration through, and especially, WWII and its aftermath, you'll see that top Yakuza have always been on the Boards of ALL the big companies.

    During Japan's Imperial Conquest, Yakuza were organized by the army, with the Emperor's permission, to loot the conquered territories.

    I noted with sad amusement just a couple of weeks ago there was a sale of Chinese rare manuscripts in Japan. The Peace Treaty we signed with Japan stipulated that no one was allowed to sue Japan, or the Emperor, for recovery or loss of war booty.

    An odd agreement, but still in force to this day.

    In 1937 the League of Nations charged Japan with being the world's main source for 'white drugs.' Part of this revenue came from, iirc, Hoshino Naoki, the man in charge of turning 1/3 of farmland to poppy growing in conquered Manchuria (renamed 'Manchukuo'). Some of Manchuria's ten million starving slaves (lost all that farmland) were the workers of these fields.

    Sentenced to life imprisonment, Naoki was pardoned in 1958 and then and served as president or chairman of a number of companies, including the Tokyu Corporation.

    Into at least the Vietname War, Japan was one of the world's heaviest dealers of opium-based drugs, having people with ties to all the conquered areas which grew them.

    We should not be all aghast at the criminal alliances between organized crime and government official and business leaders though.

    After all, Nixon took $2M in bribes from leading Mafia figures. Who, oddly, were the West's primary drug-dealers.

    Well, there's politics and there's politics. Maybe it's too shocking for some to know about certain political realities.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 03:38:05 PM PDT

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