Israeli mafia

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The Israeli mafia (Hebrew: מאפיה ישראלית‎, romanizedmafiyah yisrelit; or ארגוני פשע בישראל‎, irguni pesha b'yisrael, 'organized crime in Israel') are the organized crime groups operating in Israel or consisting of Israeli members. There are 16 crime families operating in Israel, five major groups active on the national level, and 11 smaller organizations. There are six Maghrebi Jewish crime families active and three Arab crime families.[1] Many heads and members of the crime groups have either been killed or are in prison.[2][3]

Organized crime in Israel[edit]

The major crime groups are the Abergils, the Abutbuls, the Alperons, the Dumranis, the Shirazis, the Amir Molnar and Zeev Rosenstein syndicates.[2] The illegal activities they are engaged in include operating casinos and other forms of gambling inside and outside Israel, car theft, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, murder, protection and extortion rackets, loan sharking and drug dealing.

According to Israel's former Police Commissioner David Cohen, Israeli crime organizations had penetrated the formal economic sector and local governments, and "equipped themselves with large quantities of combat means explosives and arms." In a mob war starting in the early 2000s between the crime families, several crime bosses were killed. It also cost the lives of innocent bystanders.[4] The Iakhbal is the Israeli Special Police Unit that fights organized crime.

In Israeli politics[edit]

In 2010, it was reported by Wikileaks that the United States Embassy in Israel expressed grave concern that Inbal Gavrieli, the niece of one of Israel's most powerful mafia families, had been elected to the Knesset as an MK for the Likud party.[5]

North-African and Middle Eastern crime families[edit]

The immigration of Egyptian and Moroccan Jews to Israel and their settlement in the more impoverished neighborhoods led to the creation of crime families among Maghrebi Jews.[6] This is evident in the fact that a large number of Israeli organized criminals have fled to Morocco in recent years.[7] Israeli crime families of Moroccan Jewish descent expanded their operations to Europe and the US, especially with their involvement in drug trafficking.[8] Some of Israel's more well-known crime families are of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish descent: the Abergil crime family as well as the Abutbul and Domrani clans are originally from Morocco,[9] the Alperon clan came from Egypt, and the Shirazi clan from Iran.

Israeli Arab organized crime[edit]

Israeli-Arab organized crime groups were formed in Israel. Some Arab-majority cities and towns are home to local crime families.[10] Clans like Tayibe based Abdel-Kader family are involved in extortion, drug and weapon trafficking, fraud as well as money laundering, often in cooperation with their Jewish counterparts.[11] One Arab crime family, the Jarushi family from Ramla, is one of the most powerful crime families in Israel.[12] The Qarajah crime family, also originated from Ramla, was used to have a long time blood feud with the Jarushis, resulting in the death of 24 people in the 1990. The feud ended when the Qarajahs were forced by the government to have a cease fire agreement whereby they will leave Ramla to settle in any other Arab settlement. After no other settlement agreed to house them, the government eventually settled them in the Jewish town Harish[13].

Another example was the criminal gang around Moussa Aliyan in New York City whose main business was the importation of heroin.[14]

Russian mafia[edit]

The Russian mafia in Israel began with the mass immigration of Russian Jews to Israel in 1989.[15] Jewish Russian crime bosses such as Semion Mogilevich acquired Israeli citizenship and laundered money through Israel.

The Russian mafia saw Israel as an ideal place to launder money, as Israel's banking system was designed to encourage aliyah, the immigration of Jews, and the accompanying capital. Following the trend of global financial deregulation, Israel had also implemented legislation aimed at easing the movement of capital. Combined with the lack of anti-money laundering legislation, Russian organised crime found it an easy place to transfer ill-gotten gains. In 2005, police estimated that Russian organised crime had laundered between $5 and 10 billion in the fifteen years since the end of the Soviet Union. Non-Jewish criminals such as Sergei Mikhailov sought to get Israeli passports, using fake Jewish documentation.[16]

Russian and Ukrainian Jewish criminals have also been able to set up networks in the United States, following the large migration of Russian Jews to New York City and Miami, but also in European cities such as Berlin and Antwerp. Russian-Jewish mobsters include Marat Balagula, Evsei Agron and their respective criminal gangs in the United States. Soviet-Jewish criminal groups in the United States are involved in racketeering, prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, and gasoline fraud as well as murder.[17]

Georgian organized crime[edit]

Family-based organized crime groups were formed among Georgian Jewish immigrants to Israel as well.[18] Georgian-Jewish crime families have been able to expand their operations to Western European cities such as Antwerp. They are involved in counterfeiting, fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, prostitution and armed robbery. Such was the case with the Georgian-Jewish Melikhov clan in Antwerp.[19][20]

In the United States[edit]

In the 1980s Israelis set up a crime syndicate headed by Johnny Attias in New York, dubbed the "Israeli mafia". It pulled off the biggest gold heist in the history of Manhattan's jewelry district, getting away with over $4 million in gold jewelry. Attias was murdered in January 1990, and New York's Israeli mafia fell apart soon after. Several members, among them Ron Gonen, had turned informant and the authorities arrested the rest of the gang in September of that year.[21]

Israeli crime organizations such as the Abergil crime family and Zeev Rosenstein were heavily involved in ecstasy trafficking in the United States.[22] In a statement before Congress in 2000, officials with the U.S. Customs Service noted that "Israeli organized-crime elements appear to be in control" of the multibillion-dollar U.S. ecstasy trade, "from production through the international smuggling phase".[23] The main drug supplier of former Gambino crime family underboss Sammy Gravano in his Arizona drug ring allegedly was New York based Israeli mobster Ilan Zarger,[24] who allegedly distributed more than one million ecstasy pills from May 1999 to May 2000 with a wholesale value of $7 million.[25][26] He pleaded guilty to charges of running a drug gang that flooded Arizona and New York with almost four million ecstasy pills over three years.[27] Another Israeli, Oded Tuito, said to head one of the largest ecstasy-smuggling organization, which imported millions of ecstasy pills from Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt into New York, Miami and Los Angeles, was arrested in May 2001.[28]

In 2006 Zeev Rosenstein was extradited to the U.S., after being arrested in Israel. He pleaded guilty before a federal court in Florida to charges that he distributed ecstasy pills and was sentenced to 12 years in prison which he serves in Israel.[4] In January 2011, Itzik Abergil and Meir Abergil and three other suspects were extradited to the U.S.

They faced a 77-page, 32-count federal indictment that alleged murder, massive embezzlement, money laundering, racketeering and running a large Los Angeles-based ecstasy ring.

In Mexico[edit]

Mexico was shocked when members of the Israeli mafia killed Israeli citizens in broad daylight at a restaurant in a shopping mall in Mexico City on July 24, 2019. A 33-year-old woman, who was reportedly paid MXN$5,000 (US$260), was arrested.[29] Her alleged accomplice was arrested in Cancun, Quintano Roo, Mexico, on July 26.[30]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "VICELAND: Charlie Abutbul was badly wounded in a hail of bullets inside a Netanya eatery on Monday". 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  2. ^ a b Jonathan Lis (March 15, 2009). "Police cite significant achievements against major crime families. The Israel Police spent the past year focusing on Israel's 16 crime families". Haaretz.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Marc Perelman (October 16, 2008). "Israel Seeks U.S. Help To Fight Mob Crime Wave". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  5. ^ WikiLeaks: U.S. worried Israel becoming 'the promised land' for organized crime, Haaretz, December 3, 2010
  6. ^ Khalil, Ashraf (January 6, 2009). "Police in Israel grapple with a mafia gang war". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ "New destination for alleged Israeli mobsters on the run: Morocco". 14 September 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Israëlische mafiabaas is onzichtbare spin in xtc-web / Nieuws / - Jouw politieke portaalsite". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  9. ^ "The Jewish Press  »  » Charlie Abutbul". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  10. ^ World Blog (26 December 2014). "Mafia-style violence in Gaza and BBC reporter". NBC News. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Police nab Israeli-Arab mob family head, 16 associates". The Jerusalem Post - Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  12. ^ Weinglass, Simona. "Meet the Jarushis, the crime family linked to Likud MK David Bitan".
  13. ^ משפחת הפשע קראג'ה, Yitzur Yeda website (in Hebrew)
  14. ^
  15. ^ Misha Glenny (2008). McMafia : seriously organised crime. London: Vintage Books. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-09-948125-6.
  16. ^ Glenny (2008) p. 130-131
  17. ^ Abramovitch, Ilana; Galvin, Seán (2002). Jews of Brooklyn. ISBN 9781584650034. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  18. ^ "NCJRS Abstract - National Criminal Justice Reference Service". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Parket wil Belg-zijn afpakken". Het Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Gansters krijgen vrijbrief - helden worden gestraft". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  21. ^ Dave Copeland (2007). Blood and Volume: Inside New York's Israeli Mafia. Fort Lee, N.J.: Barricade Books. ISBN 978-1-56980-327-1.
  22. ^ Summers, Chris; Quinn, Jennifer (June 7, 2004). "Israel struggles to keep a lid on crime". BBC News. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  23. ^ Christopher Ketcham (May 7, 2002). "The Israeli "art student" mystery". Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  24. ^ Alan Feuer (December 15, 2000). "New Charges in Ecstasy Case Are Filed Against Gravano". The New York Times.
  25. ^ "Ecstasy Dealer Sold To Gravano, Feds Say". New York Daily News. July 7, 2000. Archived from the original on April 21, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  26. ^ Feuer, Alan (May 25, 2001). "Gravano and Son Are to Enter Guilty Pleas in Ecstasy Case". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  27. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (January 9, 2001). "Brooklyn Drug Dealer Pleads Guilty". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  28. ^ Alan Feuer (May 27, 2001). "In Drug Case, a Chip Off the Old Bull". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  29. ^ Jon Martin Cullell (July 27, 2019). "Una peluca, la mafia israelí y un doble asesinato: un crimen a sangre fría en Ciudad de México" [A wig, the Israeli mafia, and a double murder: A cold-blooded crime in Mexico City]. El Pais (in Spanish). Madrid. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  30. ^ "Erez Akrishevsky, el mafioso israelí ligado a uno de los asesinados en Plaza Artz" [Erez Akrishevsky, the Israeli mafia member tied to the killings in Plaza Artz]. UNO (in Spanish). July 26, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.

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