Israeli Crime Syndicate Killed Police Informant Under Supervisors' Noses

Anton Roman infiltrated the Lavi crime family but aroused the crime gang's suspicions and was killed in June, with police officers just 200 meters away

Anton Roman, who was murdered in an orchard near Rehovot in June 2017.

A police informant who infiltrated an organized crime family in Rehovot was allegedly murdered by the mobsters last month, despite his police supervisors being just a few hundred meters away at the time of the shooting.

According to an indictment filed Friday, Anton Roman was murdered in a citrus grove on the night of June 15 near Rehovot. The police said he was an undercover informant who had provided information about the Lavi crime syndicate.

After members of the crime family discovered Roman’s links to the police, they allegedly managed to kill him while other members of the police were just 200 meters (650 feet) away.

The police officers providing surveillance in the area said they thought the sound of gunfire they heard was from weapons being tested in preparation for a hit against another mobster. Fifteen minutes later, however, the police discovered Roman’s body.

The case raises a number of questions that have yet to be addressed. Roman had been well-known to the police, having been jailed for various crimes, including some violent ones and others related to drugs. During his most recent stint in prison, he was recruited to become an undercover police informant who would infiltrate the Lavi crime family (headed by brothers Ofir and Amos Lavi). The police enabled Roman to get close to members of the Lavi crime organization who were serving time in the same prison.

The file on the case indicates that Roman’s work for the police was a big success: he gained the trust of the crime syndicate’s members and even became Ofir and Amos Lavi’s bodyguard.

Within a matter of months, Roman managed to provide the police with information about the Lavis’ alleged plans. In at least seven cases, Roman’s information allowed the police to foil assassination attempts at the last moment, police said. But the police action also led members of the crime syndicate to wonder why their activities were being disrupted.

The police have still not confirmed that Roman’s murder was as a result of his recruitment as an informant. However, material from the investigation indicates the group discovered Roman was working with the police and decided to have him killed. According to police suspicions, in April senior members of the Lavi crime gang – including Amos Lavi’s nephew – began discussing murdering a member of the rival Amar crime syndicate. Roman provided the police with information about their plans.

According to Friday’s indictment, members of the Lavi group rented a car that was to be used in the murder of the rival crime group member. Roman informed the police that he planned to meet with members of the Lavi group in a citrus grove near Kibbutz Givat Brenner, an encounter that was to be the final meeting before the hit on the Amar family.

The police gave Roman a recording device, although it did not transmit in real time. Three policemen stationed themselves 200 meters from the site. Other officers were situated further away, filming the encounter.

According to the indictment, Roman was shot seven times after arriving at the orchard. Police officers thought the shots they heard were the mobsters trying out a weapon before moving on to murder the rival crime figure, as Roman had previously explained to them. The car containing the suspects left without the police taking action. Police were also stationed at the home of the member of the Amar family who was the alleged target.

The police only discovered Roman’s body 15 minutes after his death. They subsequently arrested members of the Lavi family at a restaurant, on suspicion of murdering Roman.

Police said they had already planned to launch an investigation into how Roman’s murder occurred when he was under surveillance.

They also issued a statement acknowledging that Roman had been recruited as an undercover agent working for the police. The police added that many people now owe their lives to the information he provided.

The circumstances around Roman’s murder would be investigated “to see if there are lessons to be drawn,” the police said.