(photo credit: Wiki Commons)
A top member of a central Israel, organized-crime family was arrested on Friday night as part of a drug smuggling investigation run by the Serious and International Crime Unit of the Israel police.
The organized crime figure, whose name is still banned from publication, is among six men police believe wired money to an Israeli citizen incarcerated in Peru, who then arranged the transfer of an unspecified amount of cocaine to the gang back in Israel.
Prosecutors are already working on an indictment against five of the suspects in the case, who face charges of drug possession, manufacture of drugs and obstruction of justice.
They were named as: Tzalah Milad, Hamuda Kashot, Ibrahim Shaban, Ibrahim Abu Laban and Haim Zrihan.
The organized crime figure is part of an Israeli-Arab crime family based in Ramle and Lod, which is widely considered one of the largest and most feared in Israel.
In the ‘90s they gained much exposure in the Israeli press due to a bloody feud they waged with a rival Israeli-Arab family operating in the city.
The recent arrest follows the detention of four Israeli smugglers who were caught at an airport in Brazil with 2.5 kg. of cocaine in their possession last week.
An undercover investigation conducted over the past few months by the Negev division of the central investigative unit pointed to a suspected trafficking route to Israel that began in Paraguay.
Investigators believed that the route had yet to be used due to difficulties associated with bringing drugs into Israel.
Four suspects in their 30s were arrested by the central investigative unit when the undercover operation transitioned into an open investigation last Sunday.
All four suspects were residents of southern and central Israel and detained at the airport in Brazil on suspicion of organizing the import of cocaine. Their remand was extended until Tuesday.
The central investigative unit believes that the network operated over the past year and built a worldwide route designed to cover the couriers’ tracks.
The trail began in Paraguay and continued on to Brazil.
From there it was meant to continue to Madrid, Cairo and then on to the Taba crossing from Sinai to Eilat.
The arrests in Brazil led to the capture of more members of the smuggling ring and another 35 kg. of cocaine in their possession.
Police operations to prevent illegal substances from entering the country is a “battle of wits,” in which security forces “must think creatively and always be one step ahead,” said Asst.-Ch. Yoram Halevy, Southern District police chief.