Suspected organized crime figures Meir and Yitzhak Abergil boarded a U.S. federal plane on Wednesday headed for the United States, more than two years after the first request for their extradition. If convicted and sentenced to jail, however, they will serve time in an Israeli prison.
The brothers are among five Israeli defendants - including Yisrael Ozifa, Moshe Malul and Sasson Barashi - who were extradited on charges of money laundering, extortion and drug trafficking. They are also accused of killing a drug dealer.
The suspects, who are also alleged to be members of an organized crime organization, were supervised on the flight to the United States by American law enforcement officials. They will be held in custody until the end of their trial.
Due to the sensitivity of the extradition and the need for heightened security measures, the U.S. decided not to send them on a commercial flight, and sent a private federal plane for their extradition. The plane took off from Ben Gurion airport at approximately 15:30.
The five were indicted in 2008 by a California court and the extradition request was submitted in October of that year. The extradition follows a six-year police investigation that entailed cooperation between U.S. authorities and law enforcement officials from several other countries.
It is thought that the defendants' lawyers have been in touch with U.S. officials over a possible plea bargain. The Americans oppose the prospect of a deal for Yitzhak Abergil, who is allegedly heavily involved in the three cases that form the basis of the indictment.
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