Negev Police bust Beersheba mob, including IDF explosives expert

Captain Yisrael Peretz, 25, is suspected by police of providing explosive devices for the Beersheba mob's use.

Negev Police dismantled a Beersheba crime organization that terrorized victims and committed offenses ranging from attempted murder to arson, police said on Thursday. After an extensive investigation, police arrested 12 people on Wednesday, including an IDF officer who is an ordinance and arms expert. Captain Yisrael Peretz, 25, served in the Armored Corps Division at the Tze'elim IDF base in the Negev, and is suspected by police of providing explosive devices for the Beersheba mob's use. "He is an expert in military arms. We found a connection between him and members of the crime organization," Supt. Lior Zohar, acting Negev police commander, told The Jerusalem Post. Peretz's custody was extended Thursday by five days at the Beersheba Magistrate's Court. Yaniv "Nivi" Zaguri, 34, was identified by police as leader of the crime gang, and was apprehended in Ashdod after attempting to flee the country. Zohar could only give some of the details surrounding the investigation, due to a court-imposed media blackout. He spoke of a well-organized mob structure in which every member knew his role. "Zaguri is the highest ranking criminal in Beersheba. He didn't resist arrest - that's not his style. He exercised his right to remain silent," Zohar said. "He was very surprised to see us." "He was at the top of the pyramid, and would give orders to 'soldiers' who were tasked with carrying them out. Other people were involved in managing the organization's financial affairs. The organization ran a gambling 'department,' loan sharks and protection rackets," Zohar continued. "Everyone had their job, and they were all controlled by Yaniv. "We know we got the most dominant criminals in Beersheba... they were responsible for the most severe crimes, including grenade-throwing and arson," Zohar said. "We expect to see a recognizable drop in crime in Beersheba after this operation."