(photo credit: INIMAGE)
A mob enforcer turned state witness helped bring an indictment this week against southern mob kingpin Shalom Domrani and dozens of his associates, giving up details about a bloody underworld feud that has seen numerous car bombs, shootings and brawls across the Ashkelon area in recent years.
The journey of “AZ” from enforcer to informant is detailed in an indictment issued Thursday in the Beersheba District Court against Domrani and 28 of his associates, who face charges ranging from murder to firearms offenses. Domrani himself faces two counts of attempted murder, as well as conspiracy and firearms offenses.
The crimes are part of an underworld war waged in recent years between Domrani and his associates from “The Ashkelon Crew” – including the Lavi Brothers crime family from Rehovot – and their arch-rivals led by Benny Shlomo’s crime family and the “Georgians Gang” from Ashdod.
The indictment describes how Domrani formed a “coalition” with the Amos brothers and Yossi Edri, in order to join forces against the Georgians and Benny Shlomo. According to the indictment, AZ and Yossi Edri – himself the head of an Ashdod gang allied with Domrani – conspired to kill David Kariheli from the Georgians gang and their associates. One of these associates, Menashe Maor, was killed when a bomb blew up in the car he and two other Benny Shlomo associates were driving on November 4, 2014 in Ashdod.
Domrani was released from Ramon Prison in January of this year after serving 15 months for tampering in the Netivot municipal elections.
Then in October, police arrested Domrani and 28 of his associates in raids across the South, as part of what they referred to as Case 8035. AZ’s testimony served as the bedrock of the case.
Domrani’s arrest came less than a month after Shalom Shlomo, 41, the brother of Benny Shlomo, was gunned down near his home on Moshav Heletz. Benny Shlomo was Domrani’s top lieutenant for years until he broke away and set up his own crew a few years ago, sparking a blood feud with his former boss.
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In June 2015, Domrani’s Ashkelon crew started acquiring pistols, grenades and other weapons to use against their rivals. On July 14, AZ approached the special investigative unit of the Lachish subdistrict and offered his services as an informant, helping to build the case against Domrani and his associates. AZ turned to the police not long after Domrani tasked him and two other associates with the murder of a rival from the Ashdod gang. The murder was never carried out.
In August, Domrani was heard saying “we’re together in this war, lets squash them.
Every one of us can squash [them] alone, you smash, we’ll smash, all the Ashdod gang will get smashed. Each of us will know what to do,” according to the indictment.
The Justice Ministry said Thursday they expect a total of 31 defendants to face charges in the case, which the Southern District police said is one of the biggest organized crime cases in years in Israel.
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