Police arrest dozens in Eilat, Beersheba crime raids

Detectives nab alleged organized crime members in 2 separate raids; suspects wanted in connection with murders, extortion.

police car 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
police car 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Police investigators from the YAHBAL serious and international crimes unit and investigators from the Tax Authority arrested 30 organized crime suspects in Eilat on Tuesday.
Further north, investigators from the Negev branch of the YAMAR central investigative unit arrested 32 suspected mob figures in Beersheba.
Police in Eilat and Beersheba said that the 62 suspects arrested on Tuesday represent the most senior local crime figures in both cities.
In both Eilat and Beersheba the suspects are wanted in connection to a litany of serious crimes including murder, extortion, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
Beersheba police said the arrests included the head of the city’s most dominant criminal organization and his top deputy.
Eilat police spokesman Ch.- Insp. Lior Ben-Simon said that the men arrested in the raids ran a criminal organization that dominated underworld activity in the southern city for many years.
He said that the gang, whose members are aged from their 20s to 50s, operated with a clear hierarchy and command structure, and was well known in Eilat.
The crew worked mainly in illegal gambling in apartments and local businesses Ben- Simon said, but also made money from extortion and protection rackets.
The investigation was carried out over the past year and was focused on building enough evidence to prove that the men were involved in a criminal conspiracy, as part of organized crime. Such evidence typically means far more severe penalties for those convicted.
Ben-Simon wouldn’t give details of the alleged murders, due to a gag order placed on the case, but in recent years, Eilat has seen a number of killings connected to the local underworld which remain unsolved.
According to the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court, the case involves a series of major crimes, including heading a criminal organization, attempted murder, money laundering, and extortion. The rest of the men arrested Tuesday in Beersheba are lieutenants in their organization, the court said.
The court said the men managed a large loan-sharking business that took heavy interest on illegal black market loans and used violence against debtors who didn’t pay on time. In addition, the group extorted money from individuals and companies across the city, hurling grenades at local businesses and physically assaulting people on a number of occasions.
All of the suspects, including the top officers and the lieutenants, had their remands extended by between eight and 10 days.
Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino on Tuesday praised the operation, saying it “is part of a long series of complicated enforcement actions carried out in recent weeks carried out by YAMAR on the district and national level, which have brought the arrests of over 100 members of organized crime rings.”
“These were high-quality determined operations which have dealt a serious blow to criminal organizations, as part of the Israel police war on these organizations both inside and outside of the country,” Danino said.