Organized crime boss Asi Abutbul was arrested on Monday on suspicion of involvement in a number of murders and attempted murders of underworld figures. The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court ordered him to remain in police custody for two weeks.
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Abutbul, who is currently serving a prison sentence for heading a criminal organization, is suspected of having ordered at least two murders and one attempted murder. A number of other suspects were also arrested in the case as part of the so-called 512 Affair, a massive investigation into Israel’s main crime families that has resulted in the arrests of at least 60 suspects over the past two weeks.
Abutbul has been mentioned in the case of Moshe Hadas, a member of Abutbul’s crime family who disappeared in 2000 and is presumed to have been murdered.
Another murder under investigation in the affair is that of David Dangur, who was murdered in Mexico in 2001. Abutbul is suspected of ordering the murder and dispatching a hit squad to carry it out, after a falling out between the two men.
The attempted murder of Avi Yamin in February 2001 is also part of the investigation. A state’s witness in the case has said the attack on Yamin was also a result of internal conflicts within Abutbul’s organization. Abutbul is also suspected of another attempted murder in 2001, that of Yoram Elal, who was a prominent member of Yitzhak Abergil’s crime family at the time. The attempt on Elal’s life made use of an explosive device.
The Israel Prison Service is trying to prevent wars among members of the criminal families in its facilities, a growing problem in light of so many recent arrests. With this goal in mind, the agency has moved a number of prisoners and detainees to cells or cell blocks with stricter security.
Among the individuals who have been transferred recently is Ze’ev Rosenstein, a prominent crime figure who was the target of two attempted assassinations in 2003.
The lifting of a gag order on Monday revealed that Nissim Alperon was the reputed leader of the crime family who was arrested on Sunday at Ben-Gurion International Airport as he was preparing to leave the country. Alperon is suspected of links to a 2002 gangland killing in Prague that spurred a series of gang-related murders in Israel.
Alperon’s lawyer said the arrest was a media event and that his client had given up crime long ago and had nothing to do with any of the allegations.
On Friday, police arrested Rico Shirazi, also considered the head of a crime family. He is suspected of involvement in the murder of Guy Yehezkel in 2003 and in an attempt on Abutbul’s life in 2004.