Suspect Arrested in Drive-by Murder of Israeli Mob Boss Son

The 29-year-old man, arrested last week, is thought to have had a falling out with the victim as part of an internal struggle within the Shirazi crime family.

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The scene of a drive-by shooting in Tel Aviv, May 7, 2016.
The scene of a drive-by shooting in Tel Aviv, May 7, 2016.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israel Police have arrested a 29-year-old resident of Netanya who is suspected of killing the son of an Israeli crime boss in a drive-by shooting in north Tel Aviv on May 7.

Shai Shirazi, 32, was an ex-convict and the son of crime kingpin Rico Shirazi.

Slain Israeli crime family member Shai Shirazi in a 2009 court appearance.Credit: Nir Kedar

The suspect, Michael Levy, was arrested last week with another man, Gal Azoulai – but both on suspicion of involvement in other crimes. The two were allegedly affiliated with Rico Shirazi’s crime family; Azoulai in particular was considered to be a close friend of Shai Shirazi. Now, however, only Levy is being considered a possible suspect in the murder.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court decided on Monday to extend detention his detention and partially lifted its gag order on Monday concerning the arrests of the two men and certain details in the case.

For their part, the police suspect that the motive behind the murder is an internal struggle within the crime organization.

Rico Shirazi in court in Tel Aviv, December 7, 2015.Credit: David Bachar

In the past, Levy was thought to have been a member of the rival Aboutboul family crime organization. He and Shai Shirazi became close at some point, though recently they seemed to have had a falling-out.

The Israel Police’s Central District investigations unit received information some six months ago that Levy and Azoulai may have been involved in the drive-by shooting and attempted murder of Aviv Ganish in July 2015. They are also suspected of throwing a stun grenade at the Benny Hadayag restaurant in Netanya in September 2015.

However, only last week were Azoulai and Levy actually arrested. The police did not initially inform the court of suspicions of possible involvement in the Shirazi murder, when asking to extend the remand of the two men; the suspicions in the Shirazi case only came to light during the questioning of the suspects in connection with the other cases.

The funeral of Shai Shirazi, who was gunned down on May 7. Police suspect the motive may be an internal struggle within the family crime organization.Credit: Moti Milrod

Shai Shirazi, long considered to be the heir to his father's organization, had served two prison terms and was convicted of being an accomplice in the deaths of three people. He was critically wounded by the gunshots aimed at his car on May 7, and died shortly thereafter. A male passenger was lightly wounded. 

Rico Shirazi has been in prison since December, serving an eight-year sentence for tax violations and money laundering. Police fear the slaying of his son may ignite a new war among crime groups, as the Shirazi family looks for revenge after suffering a very severe blow.

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