Dozens nabbed as police target underworld crime syndicates

Long-term probe into suspects accused of murder, extortion, trafficking in drugs among most significant in recent memory, top cop says

File: Israeli chief of police Yohanan Danino seen at a meeting with the Israeli Electoral Committee, February 11, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
File: Israeli chief of police Yohanan Danino seen at a meeting with the Israeli Electoral Committee, February 11, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Police arrested dozens of suspects early Monday morning following an intensive investigation into a number of notorious Israeli crime rings that are accused of a string of felonies including drug trafficking and murder, Israel Police said Monday.

Over 50 suspects across Israel were apprehended in their homes and brought in for interrogation as officers seized vehicles, properties and bank accounts.

The raid was the culmination of a multi-year investigation conducted by Israel Police’s anti-fraud Lahav 433 unit together with the Tel Aviv district police.

Police Chief Yohanan Danino termed the operation “one of the most significant probes ever conducted against crime organizations in recent memory.”

Officials remained largely mum on the details because a partial gag order was still in effect Monday afternoon.

The case details a number of offenses committed in Israel and abroad, with some suspects linked to known crime syndicates.

Police officials said they will seek to extend the remand of some of the suspects at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court Tuesday morning.

“We won’t stop carrying out efforts and measures in our war on [crime, which] generated a list of serious charges against one of the organizations,” Danino told a gathering of the Israeli Bar association in Eilat Monday.

“We’ve seen a dramatic drop in crime. In violent and organized crime, acts of robbery and shootings; the murder rate is at its lowest in two decades,” he said, adding that the fight against organized crime “creates a significant deterrent against criminal groups.”

Israeli officials have vowed over recent years to step up operations against organized crime, amid a string of car bombings linked to the syndicates which have rocked Israeli cities.

“Last week I read a headline: every three days there’s a murder in Israel. In the subhead though you read the good news: that this is the lowest number in two decades,” Danino said, noting that in the United States the murderer rate is 4.5 times higher than in Israel, per thousand residents. He boasted that 2014 saw fewer murders in Israel than in Switzerland.

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