Prison jail generic.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Six people from Or Yehuda were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of intimidating local residents who were in debt, and extorting them into paying cash.
The suspects "operated like an organized group," police said, and used threats, physical violence, and other intimidation tactics like throwing grenades outside the homes of debtors to force payments out of business owners, individuals who took out high interest loans on the grey market, and gamblers who lost money in illegal casinos.
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The arrests came after a five-month long undercover investigation by Tel Aviv police's central unit and the Tax Authority. Over 159 people were questioned during the investigation.
Police said the suspects also evaded tax and laundered sums of cash totaling tens of millions of shekels.
To that end, a currency exchange center was opened, as well as straw bank accounts, police added.
"In some cases, suspects took over bank accounts of those in debt,, or
alternatively opened up new accounts in their names, and used them to
launder money," police said.
Authorities seized apartments and luxury vehicles during Wednesday's raid.