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Ze'ev Rosenstein, the No. 1 target of the Israel Police intelligence, could be and should be pleased as punch. Today his plea bargain is expected to receive the imprimatur of the American courts, after which he can return, adorned in a garland of victory, to do the 12 years' time imposed on him in Israel.

He should be pleased not only because has he saved himself two more years' hard time, which the U.S. prosecutors meant to demand, and three years for another crime that the Israeli prosecution agreed to overlook. In the terms of the criminal world, the difference between 12 years and 14-17 years is not that great.

No, his real triumph isn't in terms of the years he saved himself from sitting. It's that he saved himself from losing the fruits of his crimes.

The math is simple. The crime gangs buy each Ecstasy pill, according to police estimates, for a dollar. They sell it on the American streets for $10.

Rosenstein, to recap, admitted to smuggling 700,000 Ecstasy pills. If we assume that is indeed the whole amount, then they brought him $6.3 million. conservatively assuming that half that amount seeped out to drug dealers and other mediators, Rosenstein still made between $3 million to $3.5 million from the crime of which he was convicted.

For that, Rosenstein was sentence to 12 years, or eight years if a third is taken off for good behavior. Ergo, for each day spent in prison, Rosenstein earned $1,200. Admit it, that's not a bad deal Rosenstein made.

Sweet deals

In fact, his deal is sweeter than you realize. Rosenstein has previous assets in Israel. For instance he owns an expensive house in Hod Hasharon, where his family lives. Now that he's about to be formally convicted of drug smuggling, one can say that his property in Israel, including his grand home, are probably the results of the fruits of crime too. He gets to keep these fruits, just as he gets to keep the profit of his drug smuggling to America.

And that is the place that Rosenstein can mark true victory in his plea bargain: the place is where the authorities in Israel and the U.S. waived all claims to seizing his property, even though there are grounds to wonder if he didn't gain his assets through crime.

Criminals don't become criminals because they like it, generally: they do it because they see crime as their path to riches. Criminals want to make money from crime so they can live in ritzy houses and drive fancy cars and drink champagne. They want private jets and, generally, to enjoy the better things in life.

Wealth is their end, but it's also their means of obtaining more wealth: they use it to nurture and protect crime organizations. With their wealth they buy the support of pimps, drug dealers, extortionists, and if necessary, accountants and policemen as well.

The life of Rosenstein

The fact that Rosenstein gets to keep the fruits of his crimes, and that his family continues to live the life of Riley, means that he committed the perfect crime. When he gets out in five to eight years, there his wealth will be, waiting for him. That makes the risk of his chosen profession - drug dealing - into one that pays. For him, and for all the other criminals out there.

Look! Just yesterday another plea bargain was signed with eight people accused of trafficking in women. They were sentenced to terms of six months to three years, and NIS 100,000 compensation to the women in which they trafficked. Even the apartments in which the women were employed, which had burrows in which to hide the women  in the event of a police raid, were not seized, though under anti-money-laundering law, an apartment used for the commission of a crime may  be seized, even if it's a rented apartment.

Israel is considered quite the world power in the trafficking of women, a crime sector that is believed to turn over more than a billion shekels a year. Based on the results of the plea bargain, there is no reason for the sector to do anything but flourish like a weed. It pays.

Meirava@haaretz.co.il