Police Cite Significant Achievements Against Major Crime Families

The Israel Police spent the past year focusing on Israel's 16 crime families.

The Israel Police spent the past year focusing on Israel's 16 crime families, and believes it has made significant achievements against most.

The crime families are defined as independent criminal groups with a recognizable hierarchy, and are active around the country.

These families include five major "national"-level groups, and 11 smaller organizations, some of which are aligned with or have rivalries with the national groups.

Police units including the Criminal Investigation Division and the Economic Fraud unit are responsible for the investigations.

The government decided to make fighting organized crime a priority in January 2006. In the past two years that the police have been doing so, most of the criminal organizations have suffered substantive losses.

Eight were "cracked" by the various police investigative units, and the organizations of Ze'ev Rozenstein and the Aberjil brothers were so badly damaged that it is unlikely they will recover, a police source said.

A unit called Lahav 443, which was established last year by several national-level police units, was charged with taking down the five big crime families in Israel: the Aberjil, Abutbul, Mulner, Shirazi and Dumrani syndicates.

The smaller groups are being handled by the CID and the district police investigation units.

The brothers Yitzhak and Meir Aberjil, who head Israel's most powerful organized crime syndicate, were arrested last August following an American extradition request. Three of their top assistants are also on the extradition list.

According to the extradition request, the Aberjil brothers are suspected of involvement in drug smuggling, racketeering and extortion. Yitzhak Aberjil is also suspected of involvement in the murder of Samy Attias, an Israeli drug courier, in the United States.

All five are awaiting a court decision on the extradition.

The syndicate run by Asi Abutbul also has suffered substantial setbacks due to police action.

In 2007 Asi Abutbul was arrested along with six other senior figures on suspicions of running a crime syndicate. The police confiscated items worth NIS 7 million from the group.

The police have also uncovered several assassination plots involving Abutbul family members.

Adam Abutbul was arrested over an assassination attempt against Zion Rubin, the brother of Reut Rubin, a key witness against the Abutbul family in the murder of Ra'anan Levy.

Also, a search last September near the home of family member Aviv Abutbul turned up weapons and a grenade. Aviv Abutbul has been under house arrest since then.

Amir Mulner, who heads a group whose strength has grown significantly over the past two years, according to police, is now under arrest for the duration of legal proceedings against him. He is accused of illegal arms possession and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Police sources said they were pleased that regional police units have contained the smaller criminal outfits.

During the past three years the regional police units appeared weak and ineffective against organized crime. However, in recent months a regional unit broke the Jerusalem Gang, headed by Itzik Bar Muha, who is now in prison.