Man in handcuffs - illustrative.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
A major organized-crime case involving a series of gangland murders and a litany of other serious crimes broke Monday as police arrested some 50 suspects, including at least two heads of organized-crime families and some of Israel’s better known underworld figures.
According to police, the investigation, code-named “Case 512,” involves a long series of suspected violent crimes and drug offenses both here and abroad, including high-profile murders committed recently as part of Israel’s underworld wars.
Though details of the case and the identities of the suspects are still banned from publication, those arrested include a number of senior members of a leading crime family and a number of high-ranking associates from smaller affiliates.
Just a few years ago, the crime family was arguably the most powerful in the country, but it began to break apart after its boss was imprisoned.
Subsequently, the smaller affiliates spread their influence across large swaths of the country. They went to war with each other and with additional criminal organizations as a fight raged to fill the power vacuum.
Police said Monday night that a total of 44 suspects would be brought for a remand extension at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
A total gag order on the case, which is being run by the LAHAV 433 unit and the special YAMAR investigative branch of the Tel Aviv police, was lifted partially on Monday, minutes after the commissioner, Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino, said at a conference in Eilat that “in the coming days one of the biggest, most meaningful cases the Israel Police has ever carried out will be revealed.”
Danino said police “are not resting for a moment” in their war against organized crime. He cited indictments against eight members of the Musli crime family last week on a series of murder charges, saying similar cases had become a deterrent to organized crime.
In recent years, organized- crime figures have moved abroad, where there are more opportunities for their activities and they can avoid Israeli investigators. Police here, however, have increased their cooperation with law enforcement agencies abroad, and in Israel have begun targeting organized crime through combined operations involving tax authorities, the Israel Land Administration, the Agriculture Ministry and other state bodies.