Police officers and agents from the Tax Authority raided the homes of 20 suspects Monday morning, the culmination of an investigation into money laundering, extortion by intimidation and force, assault and weapons charges, according to law enforcement officials.
Nine people were arrested and 11 more were detained in the operation, including the man police believe to be the main suspect. Officials would not identify him by name, but said that he is known to have connections to organized crime and has served jail time in Israel and abroad.
Police suspect that over the past two years the suspects have extorted tens of millions of shekels from businesses by various means, among them physical assault and throwing grenades.
The suspects will be brought before a Tel Aviv Magistrate Court judge Tuesday.
Following a spate of car bombings and assassination attempts over several months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in February to put a halt to organized crime in Israel.
“We have recently witnessed several grave acts by organized crime networks. We are determined to uproot this serious phenomenon and we give full backing to the Israel Police to use existing, and also new, methods against organized crime,” he said.
“It is not the citizens of Israel who need to worry about walking freely in the streets, but the members of organized crime families who need to be worried. They must be put in jail quickly.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.