Israeli Drug Trafficker to be Extradited to U.S.

Ze'ev Rosenstein, one of Israel's most wanted criminals, will be extradited to the United States for drug trafficking charges.

, | updated: 11:00 AM

He and several other suspects were arrested this week in Tel Aviv, and his remand was extended for 20 days.

Over the past several months, police detectives in Tel Aviv have tracked Rosenstein, but were unable to "stick" him with documented charges. Early Monday morning, however, they stopped him as he left a Tel Aviv hotel, and made it clear that this time, he would not evade them. U.S. police officers also "attended" the arrest.

The U.S. Department of Justice made the following announcement:
"Attorney General John Ashcroft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Marcos Jim'nez and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen Tandy announced today that Ze'ev Rosenstein was arrested in Israel based on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiring to distribute over 700,000 tablets of 3,4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as 'MDMA' and 'Ecstasy.' Rosenstein's arrest marks the culmination of a lengthy collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Justice and Israeli Ministry of Justice prosecutors and investigators from the DEA and Israeli National Police."

"The arrest of Ze'ev Rosenstein is the result of extraordinary close and creative cooperation between U.S. and Israeli law enforcement," said Attorney General Ashcroft. DEA Administrator Tandy said, "Zeev Rosenstein, as charged, is a drug trafficker who poured hundreds of thousands of deadly Ecstasy pills into America's neighborhoods. DEA and our Israeli partners banded together like never before to make the children of our nations safer."

Rosenstein, a leader of organized crime in Israel, was targeted by a bombing in Tel Aviv almost a year ago; three innocent bystanders were killed instead. He evaded other attempts on his life as well. He has been accused, though not formally, of ordering the murder of some of his underworld gambling competitors.

The extradition process could take months or longer, but at its end, Israeli police assume that Rosenstein could be sentenced to some 20 years in prison. An Israeli court must approve the extradition request, and the Justice Minister must then also give his consent. According to the extradition agreement with the U.S., Rosenstein will serve in Israel whatever sentence he is given.