The Southern District Attorney filed an indictment in the Beersheba District
Court on Tuesday, charging nine Ashdod residents in connection with an organized
crime ring in the city.
Armond Meira allegedly founded, managed and
directed the criminal organization, which operated a network of gambling dens in
Ashdod and Beit Shemesh, netting them tens of millions of shekels over several
According to the indictment, the gang’s goal was to control all
illegal gambling operations in Ashdod, and its members were fully prepared to
use violence to achieve their aims.
The gang also extorted local business
owners and engaged in money laundering and tax fraud, the indictment
Allegedly, Meira developed the gang’s money laundering activities
in order to cover up its illegal income, and he was the one who sanctioned the
use of violence against the gang’s enemies and debtors.
Meira is charged
with several different counts under the Organized Crime Act, including leading a
criminal organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, extortion, possessing
premises for illegal gambling operations, money laundering and receiving a thing
by receipt, all in connection with a criminal organization.
the crime ring also took control of providing services to bathers on Ashdod’s
beaches, with the help of a senior Ashdod municipal employee, Meir Ben-Guzi.
Ben-Guzi is alleged to have been on the gang’s payroll, abusing his position and
power to promote the gang’s criminal activities in the city.
his connections to Ben-Guzi to ensure control of the city’s beaches would remain
under his gang, and that the municipality would not hinder their
The chairman of Ashdod’s municipal workers’ committee, and
director of the city’s beaches, Ben-Guzi is charged under the Organized Crime
Law with conspiracy to commit a crime under the auspices of a criminal
organization; abusing his position as a public worker to aid a criminal
organization; and fraud and breach of trust.
According to one of the
charges, while Meira was serving a prison sentence for another offense, Ben-Guzi
used his position to help Meira’s family members, including his then-wife Marcel
Meira and his son Babar, gain work as municipal employees.
occasion, when Babar was under house arrest in connection with belonging to
another crime ring, Ben-Guzi allegedly signed a recommendation that Babar’s
detention conditions be relaxed so he could move freely. Ben-Guzi did so to
allow Babar to continue managing Meira’s crime ring, the indictment
In that recommendation, Ben-Guzi praised Babar for his dedication
to his municipal work, and said he was an “outstanding” employee – despite the
fact that he had never actually supervised Babar’s work.
said that in 2009, Ben-Guzi helped Meira win a tender to run services on
Ashdod’s seven beaches.
To ensure he won the tender, Meira allegedly
instructed several people to submit proposals for the work, when in fact he
himself would carry out the work.
Meira did not register with the tax
authorities for the work, neither did he keep proper accounting books, the
Also charged is Roget Zafrani, another municipal
employee, who according to the indictment used his personal bank accounts to
launder money for the gang, purchase property and to finance Meira’s family home
from 2003 through 2011.
The remaining defendants are Meira’s sons Babar
Meira and Lior David Meira; and Eliyahu ‘Monty’ Nahmias, Haim Hazut, Leon
Krotshe and Chai Nahmias.
Babar, Meira’s eldest son, acted as his
father’s right-handman in the gang, and purchased cellphones and SIM cards for
the crime ring, the indictment alleges.
Meira’s second son, Lior,
allegedly helped his father by transferring money and messages for him, and by
disrupting any police attempts to investigate the gang.
oversaw the gang’s gambling clubs and also helped launder money, the indictment
Hazut allegedly helped Babar control gaming clubs throughout the
city, and Krotshe helped Meira by acting as a channel for loans connected with
his criminal activity.
The indictment also alleges the gang ran a network
of gambling dens throughout Ashdod, including one on the city’s Haerez Street.
The gang even transferred proceeds from that gambling den to Meira when he was
in prison, the indictment said.