(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC)
Police and tax authorities took into custody dozens of top-dollar horses on
Sunday, during a bust on a multimillion-shekel gambling ring that police say
operated across northern Israel for the past several years.
Shifshak, head of the northern branch of the YAMAR investigative unit, said
Monday that one of the main suspects, who ran a horse ranch at Moshav Ben-Ami,
poured millions of shekels into top-dollar breeding horses that he imported to
Israel. Shifshak said the suspect also flew with some of the animals to Europe
to take part in horse competitions, and that they discovered a number of
trophies on the farm from contests in Europe.
On Monday, officers from
the northern branch of the YAMAR investigative unit and the Tax Authority unit
Yahalom seized 40 of the horses, as well as five cars and more than NIS 500,000
in cash during raids on the horse farm and the three gambling parlors in the
Police are now looking into the possibility that the gambling ring
may have used the horses and their winnings to launder some of the mass amounts
of cash they brought in over the better part of the past decade.
the FBI announced the arrest of a senior member of Mexico’s Zeta drug cartel,
which it suspects of laundering a million dollars per month in drug proceeds
through quarter horse breeding and racing.
Shifshak said the gambling
ring spent years pouring its illicit earnings into cars, houses, legal bank
accounts and the more-than-50 horses he said cost between $75,000 to $200,000
Shifshak said the gambling ring operated three Internet café
gambling parlors in Ma’alot, Karmiel, and Nahariya.
Shifshak said police
are also looking into cafés they suspect the gang ran in Haifa, Nazareth, and
Shifshak said that the operation was entirely Israeli-run, and the
clientele was also domestic.
Shifshak would not say if the three men were
involved in any other fashion in the Israeli underworld.
suspects – two residents of Moshav Ben- Ami ages 45 and 50 and a 75-year-old
resident of Karmiel – were brought before the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on
Monday, where their remand was extended by five days.
The three suspects
could face a combined 15 charges of gambling and money laundering.