The christening of a new fleet of traffic police cruisers..
(photo credit: YEHONATAN SABBAN)
Two suspects were arrested Thursday for the 2013 murder of an underworld figure in Ashdod, as part of the “Case 512” investigation, which has seen dozens of organized crime figures, including some of Israel’s top mob figures, placed behind bars in recent months.
Police believe the two men – wearing masks and riding on a motorcycle – gunned down the victim, Shlomi Levi, a 37-year-old father of three, while he was sitting in his car outside his house in Ashdod in October 2013.
Police said Thursday that evidence against the two men was uncovered as part of Case 512, which has seen more than 20 organized crime figures indicted in recent months on charges ranging from murder to drug trafficking and money laundering.
At the center of the case – which mainly focuses on offenses committed a decade or more ago – is the international syndicate run by Israeli mob boss Yitzhak Abergil.
According to the indictment against Abergil and his associates filed in July, between 2002 and 2006 his syndicate imported and exported ecstasy, cocaine, hashish and other drugs around the globe from North America to New Zealand, Japan, Europe and South America – trafficking worth well over NIS 220 million.
Levi himself was an associate of Abergil, though it is unclear whether he was murdered because of his ties to the Abergil family or other criminal or business interests he had. On Thursday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court ordered his suspected killers kept in custody for a further six days, while detectives build the case against them.
Most of the other murders involved in the 512 case – including those of innocent bystanders killed in the crossfire of botched mob hits – took place as part of an underworld feud between Abergil and his rival, Ze’ev Rosenstein, over a decade ago. The case was built largely due to at least seven state’s witnesses mentioned in the indictment, among them a number of well-known and feared mafia enforcers, drug traffickers and associates of the Abergil family.
In addition to Abergil, the case has seen several other alleged crime family bosses indicted, including Abergil’s ally, Avi Ruhan, and his rival, Asi Abutbul, himself a rival of Netanya mob boss Rico Shirazi, who has also been indicted as part of the evidence unearthed in the sprawling investigation.
On Wednesday, the Beersheba District Court convicted Ilan Ben-Shitrit, a crime boss from Eilat, and seven of his associates of a wide range of crimes, including multiple counts of attempted murder, money-laundering and running an illegal gambling ring.
Some of the crimes that Ben-Shitrit was convicted of were carried out as part of his affiliation with the Abergil crime family. The associates of Ben-Shitrit’s convicted in the trial include two top lieutenants convicted of running loan sharking and gambling for the criminal syndicate.