DEA sheds light on Israeli gangsters

From an affidavit, 'Post' learns significant portion of Israeli crime families' activities take place abroad.

Itzik Abergil 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Itzik Abergil 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
A significant portion of Israeli crime families' activities take place abroad, as evidenced by the recent arrest on the basis of a US extradition warrant of notorious alleged mob boss Itzik Abergil, his brother and three other suspects. Abergil's case bears a resemblance to that of mob kingpin Ze'ev Rosenstein, who was arrested by the Israel Police on a US extradition warrant in 2004. The Jerusalem Post has been given access to a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) affidavit against Rosenstein, which provides several clues on how Israeli gangsters operate in the US; using intricate webs of dealers and contact people to transport and sell enormous amounts of drugs. The DEA's affidavit was made by Task Force Officer Robert F. Deak and details how, in 2001, a Colombian national in Miami had contacted a second individual about purchasing some 65,000 ecstasy pills. Minutes later, the Colombian man had received a phone call from Mordechai Cohen, an Israeli national residing in Spain, who claimed to represent Rosenstein. Cohen was later arrested, and told authorities he had been approached by a man named Shemtov Michtavi for help distributing a major shipment of ecstasy. "Michtavi told Cohen that he was working on behalf of Ze'ev Rosenstein," the affidavit stated. Eventually, Cohen had spoken directly with Rosenstein about transporting the ecstasy pills. The affidavit describes how Rosenstein used contacts in New York to deliver the drugs to clients. When police raided the Manhattan apartment used to store the drugs, they arrested two Israeli men who had met with Rosenstein before receiving the drugs. Some 700,000 ecstasy pills were recovered from the raid. The next day, Rosenstein had called Cohen and Michtavi to warn them against contacting the New York dealers. He was heard in phone conversations saying that "the person who was supposed to pick up the pills must have been in law enforcement." Like Rosenstein, the Abergils also smuggled drugs in America, Knesset Member and former deputy police commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovitch said. Israeli mob organizations also deal in US real estate and money laundering, he added. Former Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. (ret.) Mickey Levy added that Israeli mobsters were responsible for smuggling drugs into Israel. "This is a market that will never dry up, and they know that," he said.