A branch of the gray market in Israel’s central district was shut down and 15 suspects were arrested, a police spokesperson announced on Thursday, following an undercover investigation that lasted over a year by the Tel Aviv District Central Unit together with an open investigation that has been ongoing in recent weeks.
What happened and how were they caught?
A crime family established an interest-loan bank and used an onslaught of terror and violence on borrowers who had difficulty making payments. Police estimate the syndicate lent money to more than 200 people.
To crack down on debtors, the family resorted to shooting at houses, throwing stun grenades, arson and the use of attack dogs. Among those terrorized by the family was an elderly grandfather whose grandson owed money, and a kindergarten owner whose brother got into debt.
The criminal syndicate was run by a family-based criminal organization led by Holon resident Shmuel Kahlon, 64, and his sons Avi and Noam, all of whom were arrested together with 12 other suspects on suspicions of extortion by threats, causing an explosion with explosives, arson, money laundering, as well as other tax and economic offenses.
The police investigation found a hierarchical organization that included a collection system and a layered financial system based on a foreign exchange business. According to the tax authorities, the money laundering is estimated at NIS 15 million to NIS 25 million, and the tax evasion at around NIS 10 million.
During the investigation, Central Unit detectives raided the houses of suspects and the organization’s main “office” in Holon, where batons, bulletproof vests and attack dogs were seized, among other items.
Borrowers who could not pay back loans on time, accruing hundreds of percent of interest per year, were victims of violent action and constant threats toward them and their family.
In one case, a 74-year-old man whose grandson had difficulty repaying a loan was summoned to a meeting at the family’s offices in Holon. During the meeting, the grandfather was threatened by the suspects, who kept two Rottweiler dogs in the room, according to the police spokesperson.
In another case, a debtor’s sister who owns a kindergarten became the target of the syndicate, which demanded large sums of money. She was “called to the office” after a stun grenade was thrown at her kindergarten.
A prosecutor’s statement was submitted in the case of 13 suspects. The prosecutor’s office intends to submit indictments and incarceration requests during the proceedings.
The case, called “Gray Hit,” was conducted by the Tel Aviv District attorney-general in cooperation with the Tax Authority and the Tel Aviv District Criminal and Civil Prosecutor’s Office.