Ze'ev Rosenstein lands in Israel

Underworld boss to continue 12-year prison term begun in US.

rosenstein dresses 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
rosenstein dresses 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
After a year in the US, the Israel Police's "number one target" returned to Israel Wednesday to serve the last 10 years of his 12-year prison sentence in the Ayalon Prison. Ze'ev Rosenstein, who was convicted of conspiring to distribute over 800,000 Ecstasy tablets in the US, continues to maintain that he is simply a businessman, despite having signed a statement admitting to the drug trafficking. The Israel Police tried for years to build a case against the criminal mastermind, but it was US authorities who finally succeeded. Rosenstein was extradited to stand trial in the US in March of last year and was sentenced by a Florida US District court in January. The 52-year-old Rosenstein could have been sentenced to up to 40 years for his drug-related offenses, but now that he is back in Israel, could find himself released in less than a decade. Rosenstein, whom US authorities had nicknamed "the Fat Man," appeared on the US Drug Enforcement Administration's list of 44 top international drug traffickers. He left Miami on Tuesday, flying aboard a regularly-scheduled El Al flight and guarded by a retinue from the IPS's elite Nachshon Prisoner Escort Unit. He was cuffed on both hands and feet during the flight, and also wore a bulletproof vest. Upon landing in Israel, Rosenstein was loaded into an armored convoy and taken to the Ayalon Prison, arriving less than an hour after the plane touched Israeli soil. In his cell, Rosenstein will be alone - but will enjoy the use of a television and a DVD player to help him pass the time. His family is also expected to visit him in the coming days. But the man known as "The Wolf" rejects claims by the Israel Prisons Service that he is a target for a prison hit and is expected to lobby to be removed from the solitary confinement ward where he was brought Wednesday morning. Despite his protestations, police and IPS believe that Rosenstein is, in fact, a target for assassination. In 2001, a LAU missile was fired at him near Ben-Gurion Airport, and on December 8, 2003, three bystanders were killed in a massive explosion in Tel Aviv believed to be targeting Rosenstein. Rosenstein, who was on the street at the time of the bombing, was very lightly wounded. Earlier this week, various media outlets ran afoul of the Israeli law enforcement community when they printed claims that Rosenstein's plane could be a target for yet another hit attempt. A cousin of Rosenstein's was murdered hours before his arrival in an overnight shooting in Holon. While a gag order was slapped on the incident, police said they were investigating all angles, including whether 23-year-old Ilan Hen's murder was related to his more famous cousin's anticipated arrival. Hen was already known to police for criminal practices, including drug-related offenses. Investigators initially believed that Hen died of injuries when his car crashed, but later discovered that he had been shot in the chest prior to the collision.