War on Crime: Israeli Police Cleaning Up the Underworld

A true-to-life good-bad guys thriller has ended with the arrest of crime bosses of a drug smuggling cell as police try to clean up the underworld.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 15:07

Crime boss Zev Rosenstein (center)
Crime boss Zev Rosenstein (center)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Police have arrested major crime bosses of a drug smuggling cell on top of recent arrests that are part of a massive effort to sweep out organized crime. Law enforcement officials announced that the two-year “Operation North Star,” coordinated with international law authorities, culminated with the arrests of bosses of three major crime families.


The investigation spread to Panama, where authorities swooped down on a warehouse use to store cocaine destined for Israel. Major underground organizations bought smuggled cocaine for nearly $3,000 a pound and sold it for a profit of 900 percent at nearly $50,000 a pound.


The drugs were hidden in speakers of stereo systems imported by the crime family’s import business. One of those arrested was Amir Mulner, head of an alleged crime family, and his deputy Adul Karajeh.


“The long arm of the Israel police will land heavy on crime organizations wherever they are, in Israel or abroad,” said Police Commissioner David Cohen. Israeli police created a new anti-crime unit two years ago following an escalation in underworld wars that resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders as well as crime figures.


The big catch was the extradition three years ago of Zev Rosenstein, who is serving an American sentence of 12 years in an Israeli prison. Police revealed that a criminal who turned state’s witness in this week’s arrests revealed that Rosenstein ordered a triple murder in Tiberias in 2001.


Another dramatic move in the attempt to clean up the underworld was this summer’s arrest of crime figure Shalom Damroni. The discovery of his private bank led police to the conclusion that has begun to see the light at the end of the underworld tunnel. Last month, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for an attack on an underworld hit man.


Last year, police arrested alleged crime boss Itzik Abergil and his brother Meir, who are wanted by the United States for various crimes, including murder and money laundering. Itzik Abergil also is suspected of being involved in the murder of an innocent bystander during a botched assassination attempt of an underworld member.


Today (Thursday), the government indicted Russian-born billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak on charges of money laundering through Bank HaPoalim.