Crime boss, 7 others nabbed on suspicion of extorting millions from businessman

Alleged gang leader arrested as he catches flight out of country; four suspects suspected of threatening and assaulting victim to get more cash out of him

Cash seized for a suspect's home during a police investigation into the suspected extortion of a businessman, August 7, 2023. (Israel Police)
Cash seized for a suspect's home during a police investigation into the suspected extortion of a businessman, August 7, 2023. (Israel Police)

That Israel Police revealed Tuesday that eight suspects had recently been arrested on suspicion of extorting millions of shekels from a businessman.

One of the suspects is an organized crime boss who was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport as he tried to catch a flight out of the country, police said in a statement.

He was identified in Hebrew media reports as Ismail Jarushi, part of the Jarushi crime family based in the center of the country.

All of those arrested are in their 30s and 40s. They are suspected of extortion by threats, criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, and other crimes.

Four of the suspects were arrested as they were assaulting the victim to extort more money from him, police said.

The statement did not say when the arrests were made, except for the eighth suspect who was detained on Monday when police raided his home in the southern port city of Ashdod. There they found cash and foreign currency worth around NIS 100,000 ($26,995), which is believed to have been sourced through extortion activities. A suspected illegally held airsoft pistol and a car were also seized during the raid.

With the arrests, police revealed that an undercover investigation into the case had been launched several weeks ago.

Investigators believe the gang applied “various pressures” to extort millions of shekels over years from a construction contractor in the south of the country.

A car seized during a police investigation into the suspected extortion of a businessman, August 7, 2023. (Israel Police)

During the course of the investigation, police identified an attempt by four suspects to again extort the victim, during which he was taken from his home to an industrial area near Ashdod. There he was threatened and assaulted “with the aim of extorting a sum of money from him.”

At that point an order was given to carry out arrests in order to protect the victim, police said.

The custody of seven suspects has already been extended and the eighth suspect, who was arrested on Monday, was to face a remand hearing Tuesday.

Southern District commander Deputy Commissioner Amir Cohen said in the statement: “We have a clear message of an uncompromising policy against anyone who carries out or tries to carry out extortion threats in the Southern District.”

Cohen called on the public to report any similar incidents of extortion, vowing, “We will deal with it with a firm hand and with the utmost severity to bring the criminals to justice.”

The commander of the Southern District’s Lachish investigation department, Chief Superintendent Doron Aloni said, “crimes of extortion by threats are among the most serious crimes,” making them a priority for police “in light of their direct impact on the personal and economic security of the law-abiding citizens.”

In an unrelated case, police on Monday arrested the son of a mayor in the north on suspicion of being involved in incidents of violence, shooting, placing explosives and blackmailing victims in the north of the country.

Investigators believe the suspect, a 24-year-old resident of Rameh, threatened and blackmailed victims who owed money to his father, even though the investigation found the debt had been settled via a crime organization from the north.

The suspect was to be brought for a remand hearing Tuesday.

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