Man in handcuffs - illustrative.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Israeli mob boss Shalom Domrani, “The Kingpin of the South,” was arrested Tuesday morning in a massive country- wide operation police are calling one of the largest anti-organized crime busts in years.
Domrani and 28 other alleged-organized crime figures were arrested in raids carried out by more than 150 police officers, mainly in and around Ashkelon but also in the North and Eilat. Crime family boss Amos Lavi also was taken into custody while on vacation in Eilat.
In addition to Domrani, another unnamed crime family also was taken into custody.
Although the case is still under a strict gag order, police said charges in “Case 8035” include murder; a series of attempted murders; weapons trafficking; and other offenses.
“The police are trying to stick everything bad that happens in the South on my client. This is nothing new, we know how to deal with this and we expect it all to be over in a few days,” Domrani’s attorney Roi Attias said at the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court, which extended Domrani’s remand 7 days.
The hearing was held behind closed doors with no press allowed, with Domrani himself addressing the judge and requesting that the press not be present because “they always take what I say and write the opposite.”
In January, Domrani was released from Ramon Prison after serving 15 months for tampering in the 2013 Netivot municipal elections.
His arrest comes less than a month after the brother of his blood rival was gunned down in Kiryat Gat, sparking fears the South would again be the scene of gangland warfare between Domrani and his rivals.
The victim, Shalom Shlomo, 41, was a member of the crime family run by his brother Benny Shlomo out of the Shlomo family compound on Moshav Heletz. Benny 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 that continues to this day.
The feud is believed to be the reason behind a series of bombings that targeted Domrani associates in late 2013 in Ashkelon and a series of attempted murders on both sides since.
Tuesday’s sweep comes several months after police began arresting a series of organized crime bosses and associates as part of “Case 512”– one of the largest underworld cases in Israel’s history. Since May, the case has seen dozens of organized crime figures arrested and indicted on a series of charges including murder, drug trafficking and extortion.
Case 512 is focused on the Abergil organization – once Israel’s largest crime family and at times rivals of Domrani.
On Friday morning, police arrested Amir Mulner, long the number one target of organized-crime detectives in Israel, who had just landed in Israel after a long sojourn abroad.
During a briefing with reporters on Tuesday in which he spoke at length about the security situation in Jerusalem, acting commissioner Asst.-Ch. Bentzi Sau said police are still focusing on organized crime and the rest of their duties, mentioning case 8035, in particular, saying “We will continue to fight a merciless war against organized crime.”