The Israeli businessman who calls himself 'Shai Golan' is wanted by the Los Angeles police
The Israeli businessman who calls himself 'Shai Golan' is wanted by the Los Angeles police Photo by Channel 2 News
Text size

An Israeli businessman who was kidnapped by a wanted criminal, or criminals, who went underground – it's a mystery that envelops the disappearance in Mexico of an Israeli businessman who calls himself Shai Golan.

Last week there were reports that an Israeli businessman, with portable stalls which are used to sell products in shopping malls in Cancun, Mexico in his possession, was kidnapped by his Israeli competitors.

But an investigation by Haaretz revealed that the man in question is a wanted criminal sought by the Los Angeles Police Department in the United States, as well as Canadian police, in connection with a long list of acts of fraud.

In a conversation with Haaretz, the detective in charge of the investigation with the LAPD said that, "This man is a con artist. He is definitely not naïve, he knows what he's doing." According to the detective, "It would seem that Golan disappeared of his own accord because he feared arrest, or else he was kidnapped after he took advantage of 'the wrong person.'"

"I talked with Shai for only 10 seconds," an employee of 'Golan' told Channel 2 News a week ago. "He told me that he was going to take care of things at the mall. After about 10 seconds, I heard gunshots, about 5 or 6 bullets, then shouts in Spanish and Hebrew, and after that the line went dead." The employee continued, saying that he suspects that his boss was kidnapped by his violent competitors, also Israelis.

However, from conversations with other Israeli business owners in the Mexican resort town, another picture emerges. Three Israeli companies operate portable stalls in malls in Cancun: one that sells Dead Sea products and two more that sell cosmetics and hair-straightening products.

"He arrived here in December 2009 and took control of the hair-straightening company," an Israeli employee in Cancun said. "He simply began threatening the company owners and intimidating the employees." According to another businessman, Golan employed local thugs that confronted the owners and workers until they took off and left the company to Golan.

"It began with words and quickly escalated to the point that men that worked for Golan shot at the buildings that the mall workers lived in," one businessman relates. "Another time, they shot right into the workers' apartment."

Los Angeles Police Department: "Beware of this man."

A press release from the Los Angeles Police Department from January 2009 reads: "Beware of this man! This is an Israeli man with forged papers that lives in Mexico illegally. His name is Shai Golan and he sometimes goes by the name of Shai Alalouf."

The press release continues: "He travels in a luxury vehicle (likely without legal plates). He is an Israeli that is wanted in the United States and Canada for embezzlement and fraud on a large scale. There are also reports that this man bribed his way out of charges for weapons crimes in 2008."

The press release also stated that, "He will claim that he is a respected American businessman – he is not. He was involved in a few cases of real estate embezzlement in Cancun, he terrorized two cottage owners and claimed ownership of their properties. He is known as a man who threatens the lives of people and damages their properties. He advertises properties that he has no legal claim to."

The document concludes: "He is considered very dangerous. Do not approach him. He is a con artist, he defrauds people in the U.S. and in Mexico. Everywhere he goes, he causes problems for himself, because he continues to use stolen credit cards and deceive people."

"He may have met the wrong person"

In a conversation with Haaretz, another detective from the financial crimes division of the Los Angeles Police Department working on Golan's case said: "If he was kidnapped, it is probably because he met the wrong person and did the wrong things. That is to say, he defrauded somebody who refused to let the matter drop."

The same detective said that "the man that calls himself Shai Golan" has already stood trial in the U.S., and escaped after being released to await trial.

"He is a criminal, he is not naïve. He knows what he is doing. He is very smart," she said. "He knows how to defraud, and he has defrauded many people. The detective that is dealing with his case has received telephone calls from people in other countries, claiming that he has continued to defraud people."

According to the detective, the Los Angeles police issued a public warning because it cannot operate outside of the borders of the U.S.

The beaches of Mexico are a paradise for Israeli criminals

Mexico does not have an extradition treaty with Israel, and the last few years have seen the rapid growth of a colony of Israeli criminals that conduct their international operations from there. Mexico has served as a refuge for Israeli criminals and is teeming with criminal activity, especially smuggling and drug trade from South America, the world capital of cocaine production, to the U.S. and Europe.