Former police chief wants mob laws toughened

While cops are working around the clock to thwart the many mob families, a lack of police personnel mixed with lenient laws made it harder to fight back.

There are 80 to 100 crime families operating in Israel, according to former Northern District police chief Cmdr. (ret.) Yaakov Borovsky, and while they're not exactly the Genoveses or the Gambinos, they continue to operate openly and brazenly, he said, due in part to weak laws and a lack of police pressure. "There are a lot of crime families and they hold a lot of power, both locally and politically," Borovsky said Tuesday, a day after Marguerita Lautin was gunned down in front of her husband and two young children during a botched mob hit on the beach in Bat Yam. "There's simply not enough manpower to keep pressure on them all of the time." Examples of the Israeli Mafia's exploits include the 2005 feud between the Abutbul family and the Alperon and Aberjil families in Netanya, which featured bombings and even antitank missiles, or the car bombing in Tel Aviv last month in which Aberjil lawyer Yoram Hacham was killed. While cops are working around the clock to thwart the many mob families and their criminal activity, Borovsky said, a lack of police personnel mixed with lenient laws made it harder to fight back. "The police have to operate against them all simultaneously," he said. "The minute you step back from one family, another one is moving. And the law doesn't allow police to do enough. It holds them back, especially when it comes to identifying members of families and keeping tabs on them." As the law stands now, Borovsky said, there is a three-strikes rule that applies to holding membership in an organized-crime family. The third time a suspect is proven be connected to a crime family, through phone calls or surveillance photographs, for example, the information is put in that suspect's file. "There needs to be a change in the law," he said. "It should go on their file the first time it happens, and after three, I suggest they receive jail time. The next time they're caught with a crime family, double the jail time, and so on. If this had been the case yesterday, those people might not have be walking around freely, and the shooting on the beach may have been prevented." Undercover officers were on the scene of Monday's shooting, according to police, performing routine surveillance on known members of the Aberjil crime family - the suspected targets of the attack. "From a professional standpoint, it's good that they were being watched," Borovsky said. "But it's not enough; a family was still destroyed." While the public voiced outrage over Monday's attack, Borovsky said only the government could take the steps needed to bring about change in combating organized crime in Israel. "But it's not important enough to those in power to make the necessary changes," he said. "It's going to take more situations like the one we saw yesterday to change the priorities of Israeli society. Unfortunately, we have a habit of dealing with these types of things using management by crisis." "If we really want to crack down on organized crime, we could," Borovsky said. "The government needs to change the laws that deal with crime families. They need to strengthen the police and allow them to do their work. Then they should come out and say that a criminal, no matter who they are, Mafia or not, will be caught, and will be thrown in jail."