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Amir Mulner, a reputed leading figure in organized crime, was among 17 people arrested last night in a swoop on a private home in Ramat Gan. Police found a gun, silencer and bullet clip in the house, but said the raid and arrest of Mulner were not in connection with the murder of leading crime boss Moshe Alperon last week.

All the suspects were taken for questioning to the police's Central Unit offices in Tel Aviv.

Mulner, 35, left Israel a few days before Alperon's murder. His attorney, Motti Katz, dismissed police officers' statements to the effect that his client is the "primary suspect" in Alperon's murder.

"The police's job is to investigate the murder. If there were evidence against him, they'd come to interrogate him. It is not the duty of a person who is not a suspect to make statements to the media and say he had nothing to do with it," Katz said.

Crime kingpin Ya'akov Alperon, 54, was killed last week when his car ran over a bomb at the corner of Pinkas Street and Namir Road in north Tel Aviv. He was on his way home from court where two of his sons had their remand extended for alleged threats and extortion.

The assassination sent shock waves through the Israeli underworld, senior police sources said, citing Mulner as one of the primary suspects in the murder.

In recent years Mulner has been seen as a major figure in the Israeli underworld. He is believed to be behind planting several fatal small explosives in targeted vehicles.