Crime scene [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
As the historic organized crime crackdown known as “Case 512” continues, police announced on Monday that reputed gangster Nissim Alperon was arrested on Sunday at Ben-Gurion International Airport before attempting to flee the country.
While details of the arrest, and ongoing investigation, remain unclear due to a court-imposed gag order, according to police, Alperson is a suspect in a 2002 murder in Prague that precipitated numerous gang-related murders throughout Israel.
Another reputed crime boss was also arrested Monday, although information has been classified, bringing the arrest total to 57.
According to police, Alperon is believed to have been involved in the murder of rival Felix Abutbul in front of a Prague casino, although at the time there was not enough evidence to arrest him.
During his court arraignment on Monday at Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court, Alperton claimed that he was going on a vacation with his family at the time of his arrest, and not attempting to go on the lam.
“I didn’t want to run away from the country, why would I want to do that?” he told a judge. “[The police] told me to come back, and I came back.”
As the far-reaching dragnet continues, on Friday police also arrested Rico Shirazi, who is a major suspect in the murder of Guy Yehezkel in 2003, as well as the attempted murder of Asi Abutbul the following year.
Though details of the investigation and the identities of the suspects are still banned from publication, among those arrested include a number of senior members of a leading crime family, and a number of high-ranking associates from smaller affiliates, police said.
The investigation has been overseen by the LAHAV 433 unit and the special YAMAR investigative branch of the Tel Aviv police. Last week, Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino referred to the massive sting during a conference in Eilat.
“In the coming days one of the biggest, most meaningful cases the Israel Police has ever carried out will be revealed,” he said.
In recent years, Israeli 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.Ben Hartman contributed to this report.