More alleged mobsters arrested in bid to avert crime war

Francois Abutbul detained on suspicion of planning to kill rival Rico Shirazi; police fear mob war could break out between the two.

January 26, 2011 15:46
2 minute read.
More alleged mobsters arrested in bid to avert crime war

netanya abutbul mafia mob hit crime 88. (photo credit: )

Police arrested alleged underworld figure Francois Abutbul and another suspect on Wednesday on suspicion of plotting to commit a crime.

Abutbul was arrested on suspicion of plotting to murder his arch rival in a years-long struggle for control of Netanya, Rico Shirazi, according to Hebrew media reports.

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Mob kingpins arrested 'for plotting murder' of rival
Abutbul released from prison as mob threatens his life

A police source told The Jerusalem Post that detectives from the National Serious and International Crimes (NSIC) Unit were looking into how close Abutbul was to carrying out his plot.

Police fear a mob war could break out in Netanya between Abutbul and Shirazi.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court released Shirazi and Shalom Domrani, both arrested earlier this week on suspicion of plotting to kill Abutbul, on the condition that they keep out of Netanya for the coming month.

Domrani, considered by police to be the most powerful organized crime boss in southern Israel, resides in a walled, heavily secured mansion in the
village of Otzem, near Ashkelon, surrounded by CCTV cameras. He has been banned by the court from leaving Otzem in the coming days.

Abutbul, the nephew of senior Netanya-based alleged underworld figure Charlie Abutbul, and owner of a number of restaurants in the city, was released from prison last month after completing his sentence for assaulting his estranged wife.

After being released, Abutbul received a warning that Shirazi, together with other elements, would try to harm him if he did not stay away from Netanya and cease efforts to rebuild his power there, a law enforcement source told The Jerusalem Post.

"Abutbul was warned as soon as he got out of prison last month," the source said.

The NSIC Unit is relying heavily on intelligence to keep track of feuding mob figures, and is placing all of its resources into preempting a potential flareup between the sides.

On Tuesday, alleged underworld figure Eyal Sofer was arrested on suspicion of being part of plans to harm Abutbul. 

Past crime conflicts in Netanya have resulted in shootings in public places.

In November 2010, police arrested Sofer on suspicion of attempting to kill Charlie Abutbul, though he was not charged and was released.

During the attack on September 7, Charlie Abutbul was shot at by unknown gunmen riding on a motorcycle in Netanya as he sat in a parked car with his son near the Carmel Hotel. No one was injured in the shooting. The shooting was reportedly a revenge attack for a plot to have Sofer killed in Netanya.

Charlie Abutbul's son, also called Francois, is serving a life sentence for the 2004 slaying of a youth outside a nightclub.

In 2008, three civilians were hurt when a gunman walked into a Netanya kiosk and shot Charlie Abutbul repeatedly. Abutbul survived the assassination attempt.

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