State indicts Abergil brothers, 16 others in large scale crackdown on organized crime

Other top criminals indicted included Avi Ruhan and Moti Hasin in an investigation which has also covered drug trafficking, conspiracy, tax offenses and money-laundering charges.

Meir Abergil (photo credit: REUTERS)
Meir Abergil
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed indictments against criminal kingpins Yitzhak and Meir Abergil and 18 other associates for a range of murders and the failed attempt on the life of rival gangster Ze’ev Rosenstein in Tel Aviv in December 2003 that left three bystanders dead and dozens injured.
Other top criminals indicted included Avi Ruhan and Moti Hassin – both mob bosses in their own right and close associates of the Abergils.
The investigation, known as Case 512, covered a global drug trafficking, money laundering and tax evasion network run by the Abergil family when they were on top of the Israeli underworld, mainly from 2002-2006. The case has seized headlines for months, largely because of the more than a half a dozen mob bosses included among the more than 40 suspects.
The case also includes seven state witnesses mentioned in the indictments, among them well-known and feared mafia enforcers, drug traffickers and associates of the Abergil family.
Yitzhak Abergil has been in prison for a range of criminal offenses linked to his time as one of the country’s leading crime bosses. He also served some jail time in the US prior to his extradition in January 2014. His extradition and conviction in the US were the result of one of the most complex joint Israel-US criminal investigations ever carried out, especially in light of his stature in the organized crime world.
The indictment focuses on the criminal syndicate’s operations from 2002-2006 when it imported and exported ecstasy, cocaine, hashish and other drugs around the globe from North America to New Zealand, Japan, Europe and South America. The drug trafficking reached a value of at least NIS 227,949,856 during that time period, the indictment alleges.
Yitzhak Abergil was at the top of the totem-pole and managed all the different arms of the organization – the primary groups being in Israel, Europe and Japan.
The indictment details how in May and June 2003, Yitzhak hatched a conspiracy with Yaniv Ben-Simon, Yitzhak’s right-hand man, and D.D., a former top operative turned state’s witness whose name is under gag order, to murder Rosenstein near one of his offices close to the Plumer square in Tel Aviv. Eventually, Yaniv, D.D., Shimon Sabah and state witness E.E. were all working on the plot to murder Rosenstein.
At the time, Rosenstein was probably Israel’s most well-known underworld figure and was involved in a bitter feud with Abergil.
In the failed plot, defendant Shimon Amsalem allegedly stole a car and rigged it with 2 kg. of explosive bricks and a remote detonator. When Rosenstein and his three bodyguards walked into his office, they detonated the bomb, wounding Rosenstein, the bodyguards and a state witness known as G.G.
In November 2003, Yitzhak, Ruhan, Meir and several others began to plan another attempt on Rosenstein’s life at a currency-exchange establishment on Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv, where he did business, by placing a bomb on the awning of the storefront.
On December 11, 2003, the group activated the bomb when Rosenstein was nearby, killing bystanders Rahamim Tzruya, Moshe Mizrahi and Naftali Magad, and wounding Rosenstein and 50 others, including bodyguards and bystanders.
The case is broken down into 13 separate indictments, some for drug charges and others for murders, with names like “The Big Score,” “The Mule,” “The Million-Dollar Deal” and “12 tons of hashish,” among others.
“The Big Score” gives a window into how the international operations of the Abergil family and their associates worked to make millions in drug trafficking and covered their tracks through legitimate businesses.
The case names four defendants, including the Abergil brothers, Ruhan and Canadian-Israeli businessman Sami Biton.
The case was built by state witness G.G., a former top member of Ruhan’s gang.
The case began in 1998, when two Abergil associates purchased 800 kg. of cocaine in Peru and stashed it inside the iron wheels of a large industrial machine.
Eventually, sometime between 2001- 2002, a plot was worked out to ship the machine to Canada where Biton stashed it in a warehouse belonging to his company, Sanielle Finance. In exchange for housing the machine and laundering the drug money though his company, Biton took 10 percent of the profits, the indictment says.
Over the coming year, Biton allegedly began wiring laundered money back to an account run by G.G. in Israel and sent money by way of “mules” who carried cash on their bodies and flew into Israel on at least seven occasions, totaling well over $2 million. Laundered money also was sent by Biton to G.G., who then gave the cash to Yitzhak Abergil during meetings in a number of places in Europe.
All four defendants named in the Big Score face charges of drug trafficking and membership in a criminal organization, with Biton also facing money laundering charges.
The indictments also cover the 2003 murder of an Abergil associate named David “Dieudonne” (gift from God) Biton, who allegedly was killed because he mouthed off about some of the crime family’s associates.
The indictment describes how state witness D.D. – himself an Abergil family enforcer and hit man – conspired along with Moti Hassin and Yitzhak Abergil to kill Biton after he exited a nightclub in Holon. The indictment describes how Hassin allegedly invited Biton to the nightclub and had two gunmen wait outside the entrance. Once Biton was intoxicated, Hassin walked with him outside the club, where he was followed on foot by one of the gunman to a secluded street and he was shot twice in the back.
Also indicted Monday as part of the wider Case 512 was Rico Shirazi, a Netanya mob boss, and Asaf Yariv, who are accused of paying a hit man $50,000 in 2003 to murder Guy Yehezkel, an associate of Shirazi’s arch rival, Netanya mob boss Asi Abutbul.
The two also were indicted Monday for plotting to murder Abutbul in Prague where he ran a casino. On August 1, 2004, a man on a motorcycle threw a hand grenade at Abutbul as he entered an armored car outside the casino, but the target was not harmed.
Abutbul himself also has been arrested as part of Case 512 and is expected to be indicted for his role in murders and on organized crime charges.