A major figure in Israel’s underworld who is serving a 13-year prison sentence is suspected of committing two murders over a decade ago, police said Tuesday, as heads continued to roll amid a major police operation targeting the country’s largest crime families.
Assi Abutbul, along with Nachshon Gov and Shalom Lili Devash, were named as suspects in two murder cases and two attempted murders, and were all in police custody.
The three have been linked by police to the 2000 disappearance of Netanya resident Moshe Hadas and a 2002 hit on Davidi Dangor in Mexico, along with the attempted murders of two other men in 2001 and 2002.
The police’s multi-year investigation, dubbed “Case 512” and described as one of the largest underworld busts in Israel’s history, encompasses some 40 individual investigations into crimes committed over the past 12 years by some 60 suspects, police said last week.
Police said they were expecting to arrest dozens of other suspects in the coming days. Abutbul is the seventh organized crime head to be slapped with new charges in the recent massive crackdown.
On Sunday, Nissim Alperon, another leading member of an Israeli crime family, was arrested at Ben-Gurion airport and was being held in connection with the 2002 slaying of Assi Abutbul’s father Felix Abutbul, police said Monday.
Alperon is suspected to have been involved in the killing of notorious Israeli mob kingpin Felix Abutbul outside a casino he owned in the Czech capital 13 years ago.
Other organized crime heavyweights such as the family boss Yitzhak Abergil, who is already in prison for drug offenses in the US, have been hit with fresh criminal charges.
Abergil is now suspected of involvement in a failed attempt to target another top mobster, Zeev Rosenstein, over a decade ago in an attack that killed three innocent bystanders.
Other crimes linked to Abergil include an earlier attempt on Rosenstein, the disappearance of Israeli mob figure Micah Ben-Harush in South Africa, and the operation of a massive international drug-trafficking ring, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported.
Officials have vowed in recent years to step up operations against organized crime as a string of car bombings linked to crime syndicates rocked Israeli cities.
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