Underworld figure Ze'ev Rosenstein
's extradition flight left Ben-Gurion International Airport Monday morning for the United States. US marshals will accompany him on a civilian flight to New York and then transfer him to Miami, where his trial is to take place.
"I'm not afraid of anybody," Rosenstein told Yediot Ahronot
. "I fear only God. Never has there been such a horrific case of the law so grossly distorting and bending facts."
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Three US marshals arrived in Israel last week in preparation for Rosenstein's extradition to the US, and held meetings with Israeli officials to coordinate Rosenstein's transfer to US authorities.
A police spokesman declined to detail the escort Rosenstein would receive when he travelled from prison to the airport, saying it was a "security matter." He added that he expected the trial in the US to take place within a few months.
At the beginning of last month, the Jerusalem District Court rejected a petition by Rosenstein to stop the extradition, with his lawyers arguing that an order signed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in December had expired. The court ruled that the order was still in effect and that the Justice Ministry could extradite him to the US to stand trial in Miami on charges of drug running.
The US has accused Rosenstein of conspiring to import into the country more than one million Ecstasy (MDMA) pills that were manufactured in Europe. The conspiracy allegedly began in 1999 and lasted two years.
Rosenstein was arrested here in November 2004 after Israeli authorities received a request from their US counterparts. Until he was taken in, the police referred to him as Public Enemy No. 1 and had him in their sights for years.
Rosenstein's organization - one of the largest and most notorious in Israel - has severely deteriorated since his arrest, Tel Aviv police chief Cmdr. David Zur said.
What was once a prosperous organization has now become a minor player in the criminal world, with several of Rosenstein's men watching over and directing only some of what is left of the operations.