Suspect arrested in major mob crackdown accused of poisoning Yoni Elzam in 2006

Rishon Lezion District Court judge orders man remanded for 15 days for allegedly killing Elzam in prison cell the night before he was scheduled to testify against underworld figure.

May 21, 2015 19:35
1 minute read.
Israel Police

Israel Police logo. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A Rishon Lezion District Court judge on Thursday ordered a 15-day remand for a man arrested during this week’s massive organized crime crackdown for allegedly poisoning Yoni Elzam in his prison cell in 2006, the night before he was scheduled to testify against a major mob figure.

Elzam, 22, died from cyanide before he was set to appear in court on behalf of the prosecution against Shimon Zarihan for the murder of underworld figure Hanania Ohana. At the time, Elzam was serving a life sentence for his own part in the murder.

While a gag order has prevented many details of the ongoing investigation from being released by the court, the unidentified suspect is one of 50 others arrested on Monday in “Case 512,” one of the nation’s largest organized crime busts in history.

According to police, the suspects – including at least two heads of organized-crime families and some of Israel’s better known underworld figures – have been accused of a series of gangland murders and other crimes, domestically and abroad.

Though details of the case and the identities of the suspects are still banned from publication, 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.

Just a few years ago, the unidentified crime family was arguably the most powerful in the country, but it began to break apart after its boss was imprisoned.

Subsequently, the smaller affiliates spread their influence across large swaths of the country, and went to war with each other and with additional criminal organizations as a fight raged to fill the power vacuum.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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