Bad timing and poor observational skills led five mafia soldiers straight into the hands of police detectives on Wednesday morning, as they were caught red-handed trying to strong-arm a beachfront business owner into paying protection fees, police said Thursday.
According to Chief Superintendent Yoav Kotler, the head of the investigations branch of the Tel Aviv District Police, the five mob enforcers are members of one of the biggest crime families in central Israel. Kotler said they were being watched by investigators from the special YAMAR investigative unit who hid on the sidelines as the five men stormed into the “Blue Bird” restaurant and surfing club at the Dolphinarium beach to tell the owner he has a new business partner, and the matter is not up for negotiation.
The owner, in a rare move, refused the threat and the enforcers began to go berserk inside the restaurant, throwing chairs in the air, shouting, and trashing the place, all in front of the eyes of dozens of late morning beach-goers.
The police response was quick in coming Kotler said, as about 50 officers charged the restaurant and put the men in cuffs. By Thursday morning the five enforcers Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, where their remand was extended by five days.
Organized crime families have for years extorted money from businesses on the beach, often times demanding fees that drive businesses into the ground. Few people refuse the threats, and fewer still testify to police about the extortion attempts.