Police Fail to Pin Top Gangsters in Cocaine Smuggling Case

Alleged crime kingpin Amir Mulner was released Tuesday without charge in the so-called 'North Star' case.

Alleged crime kingpin Amir Mulner was released Tuesday without charge in the so-called "North Star" case, in which police foiled the smuggling of 108 kilograms of cocaine from Panama to Israel and arrested 19 leading Israeli mobsters.

But while police had hoped to nail Mulner as well, they said this does nothing to diminish the case's success, as the other 18 will soon be indicted for drug trafficking (probably this Friday), and in some cases, for murder as well.

"If seizing more than 100 kilos of cocaine and indicting 18 people who are among Israel's leading crime figures is a mountain that turned into a molehill, I'm willing to make do from now on solely with 'molehills' like this," said Commander Avi Neuman, who heads the Central District's Central Unit.

Those slated for indictment include Uri Luzon and Guy Weberman, both senior figures in Mulner's organization, and Adul Karajeh, who heads his own organization. "We believe these criminals will go to jail for many years," one Central Unit officer said.

The state witness who broke the North Star case also revealed information about a triple murder in Tiberias in 2001, allegedly ordered by mobster Ze'ev Rosenstein, plus another murder and attempted murder.

While police are still investigating these cases, the Central Unit officer said it should be possible to indict some of those detained in the North Star case for these crimes as well.

However, he said, Rosenstein looks likely to go free, since, as with Mulner, there is as yet no other evidence to support the state witness's allegations against him.

"But indicting a list of some of the state's leading criminals for drugs that were seized and involvement in murder is nothing to sneeze at," the officer added. "This has great significance even without indictments against the very top."