Boss of 'Negev crime ring' convicted in plea bargain

Court convicts Hagai Zagoury, Rami Ezran of leading criminal organization, organizing its activities, conspiracy to murder and other offenses.

By
April 6, 2012 04:59
2 minute read.
Police cars in Tel Aviv at night

Police cars in Tel Aviv at night 150. (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Hagai Zagoury, the man police consider the boss of the Negev’s largest crime ring, was convicted of a string of charges in the Beersheba District Court on Thursday, alongside the syndicate’s alleged second-in-command, Rami Ezran.

The convictions came after the Southern District Attorney reached a plea bargain with lawyers for eight men charged with belonging to the crime ring.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The court convicted Zagoury and Ezran of leading a criminal organization, organizing its activities, conspiracy to murder and other offenses. The southern district attorney asked the court to sentence the two to 15 years in prison as well as fines totaling NIS 1.25 million each.

The court will sentence the defendants at a later date.

Significantly the amended indictment that resulted from the plea bargain dropped a murder charge against Zagoury.

The original indictment charged him with ordering a hit against former football player Eli Uzan. Under the plea bargain, Zagoury agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday that the murder charge had been based mostly on various pieces of circumstantial evidence, mostly from the testimony of a state witness.



The other charges in the indictment included counts of belonging to a criminal organization for various criminal purposes, including conspiracy, attempts to harm people and property, operating explosives, and various uses of weapons during a conflict between criminal gangs.

According to the amended indictment, members of the gang would use violence against debtors in order to charge them high interest rates, and would extort people they considered their enemies.

The defendants were also convicted of large-scale gambling den operations, as well as smuggling cigarettes and alcohol, drug trafficking, and gambling on the cruise ship Magic One. Other offenses included tax fraud, money laundering and providing loans worth millions of shekels.

The Justice Ministry spokeswoman added that the plea bargain entailed the most severe punishments consistent with other rulings for similar offenses.

She also said the plea bargain had involved negotiating complex circumstances, including testimony from three members of the crime ring who had turned state witness. The district attorney had been concerned that the court would not trust the information the three witnesses divulged.

In the plea bargain, the court was asked to impose prison sentences of various shorter durations on the other six defendants, as well as fines totaling half a million shekels.

Related Content

Riot
August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night

By DANIEL K. EISENBUD