Tel Aviv Court Slaps Record Drug Sentences on Alleged Crime Lords

Defendants given 25 and 27 years in prison, crime family lieutenants given 7 to 15 years.

The Tel Aviv District Court imposed stiff prison sentences of 25 to 27 years for the heads of two crime organizations which produced hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine and Ecstasy and sold them in Jaffa and Lod.

The Jaffa crime gang was headed by two of the defendants in the case, Mohammed and Hafez Shurfi, while in Lod the drug trade was overseen by two other defendants, Musa and Omar Abu-Shehadeh. The underlings in the drug operations received sentences of seven to 15 years in prison.

The court determined that the crime organizations worked on parallel paths and closely cooperated with one another in an effort to establish their drug-dealing turf in the areas in which they operated.

The case is only the second time the court has used new organized crime legislation passed in 2003. In September, the legislation was invoked to impose a 15-year prison term in the case of another reputed organized crime boss, Marwan Nasser, whose organization issued NIS 84 million in fake receipts. Nasser's co-defendants were sentenced to punishments ranging from six months of community service to 10 years in jail.

The legislation was designed to address the phenomenon of ongoing organized and systematic criminal activity. It enables prosecutors to overcome the difficulty of proving a link between crime bosses who do not necessary commit criminal offenses themselves with the crimes of others.

The law established the act of heading a crime organization as a criminal offense in and of itself, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and also provides for doubling a punishment if an offense is committed in the context of organized criminal activity.

The prosecutors in the case of the Jaffa and Lod crime bosses said in response to the sentence that the case was one of the most serious and unprecedented in scope that has been brought involving crime organizations and the cooperation between criminal organizations. This was reflected in the unprecedented sentences imposed in the case, which included confiscation of property in an effort to hit the crime organizations in the pocketbook.