US blacklists 4 members of Japan crime syndicate

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. has blacklisted four senior members of a Japanese crime syndicate in an effort to disrupt illicit activities and undermine their financial stability.

The Treasury Department's action targets members of Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest and most prominent syndicate. They're accused of drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, prostitution, fraud and money laundering in Japan and abroad.

Japanese gangs are known as "yakuza" and are entrenched in many areas of the economy.

President Barack Obama identified yakuza as transnational criminal organizations in 2011. Treasury has so far designated 10 individuals and three groups.

The individuals blacklisted include third-in-command Tadashi Irie, fourth-in-command Hirofumi Hashimoto, the gang's Chubu region leader Toshio Masaki and the chief of a subsidiary gang in Northern Osaka, Shoroku Ishida.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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