Ecstasy Extradition from Israel

If you want to know how drugs like ecstasy really move around on a global scale. Then we introduce some of the worlds most notorious drug traffickers.

On Wednesday January 12, 2011, five members of the Tel Aviv crime family were extradited from Israel to Los Angeles. All five suspects will be standing trial in the Central District Court of California on charges that include:

  • racketeering
  • extortion
  • drug trafficking
  • murder

The two brothers Yitzhak and Meir Abergil are believed to be the leaders of one of Israel’s most notorious crime syndicates, and as authorities say, the leaders of one of Israel’s most powerful crime families.

The extradition of the five men is a result of a six-year investigation conducted by law enforcement agencies in Israel, the United States and other countries. In July 2008, prosecutors filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles a 77-page indictment that listed 32 charges. The leader of the organized crime family Yitzhak Abergil, will face 11 of the charges and Meir Abergil who is the finical manager will face six.

The extradition to the United States was filed and requested in October of 2010; permission was given by the Jerusalem District Court. Meir Abergil fought the extradition during the judicial proceedings in the Jerusalem District Court. Last month the Supreme Court rejected the appeals by the defendants against the state’s decision to extradite.

According to the indictment, Abergil, his brother Barashi and others took money that was embezzled from Tel Aviv’s Trade Bank Ltd. to repay the estimated NIS 400 million in gambling debts of their brother Ofer Maximov. Yithak took over Maximov’s debts. Yithak started to threaten businessmen in Israel and the U.S. allowing him to launder and repay the debt from where it originally came from. For this the Abergils where arrested in 2008 for blackmailing former investors.

Yitzhak Abergil and Moshe Malul allegedly began trafficking in narcotics in 2000. Starting a massive Ecstasy ring in Los Angeles, with the help of recruits from a San Fernando Valley-based street gang know as the Vineyard Boyz. Authorities say that with the help of the recruits, tens of thousands of doses of Ecstasy was distributed through out Southern California.  At one point the State Department listed Yitzhak as one of the 40 biggest importers of illegal drugs into the U.S.

Moshe Malul also arranged that the Vineland Boyz to protect him during drug negotiations around the Los Angeles area. The indictment states that during one of the negotiations a man by the name of Sami Atias, an Israeli drug trafficker who was operating out of Los Angeles, tried to steal 76 kilograms of ecstasy in 2002. Moshe asked permission to kill Sami Atias, permission was granted.

Moshe turned to the Vineyard Boyz to have Sami Atias killed. The gang spent several days searching for Sami. On August 31, 2010, Sami was shot in the parking lot of an Encino Café. Moshe Malul and a Vineyard Boyz gang member by the name of Luis Sandoval where at the scene of the crime, but the man that pulled the trigger, was never identified in the indictment.

The US authorities may have difficulty finding sufficient evidence to convict Yithak and Malul of the murder charge. The indictment reported that there is only one witness that was close enough to identify the suspects to the murder charge. The witness is Gabi Ben-Haroush, who served some prison time with Yitzhak in Israel and befriended him. Recently Gabi Ben-Haroush was arrested and indicted for allegedly laundering and embezzling money form Trade Bank. Authorities are in hope that they can pressure Gabi into accepting a plea bargain in return for testifying against Yitzhak and Malul.

For many decades Israel refused to extradite its citizens, but altered there laws in 1999. Israel granted extradition requests to nations that promised to return defendants who are convicted and allow them to serve their sentence in Israel. Even if found guilty by a US court, because of the agreement done between Washington and Israel, the suspects would likely serve their sentence in an Israeli prison. If convicted they could face life in prison.

– Cesar Villalobos

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