'One of the most dangerous and violent criminals in Israel'

Head of ‘Russian mafia’ in Israel arrested thanks to criminal-turned informant

Police say Michael Tansky, who was nabbed along with 16 others, sought to take control of southern towns of Ashdod, Ashkelon through violent extortion of business owners, residents

Michael Transky (R) appears at the Ashkelon Magistrate's Court on September 20, 2021. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Michael Transky (R) appears at the Ashkelon Magistrate's Court on September 20, 2021. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Police announced Monday the arrest of the head of the so-called “Russian mafia” in southern Israel, crediting the successful operation to a close confidant of the mobster who it managed to turn into an informant.

Michael Tansky was arrested along with 16 other members of his crime organization located in southern Israel.

The 38-year-old subsequently appeared before the Askelon Magistrate’s Court where his remand was extended by nine days.

Police in a statement said their operation lasted roughly three months after officers managed to turn a senior member of Tansky’s inner circle into an informant, who managed to incriminate his boss and 16 others from Ashdod, Ramle and several Bedouin villages in the south. The informant was known to police by the code name of Nikita. He was a former convict who was offered a way out of a life of crime by police in exchange for assistance in taking down Tansky.

The informant’s handlers had him carry out a number of weapon and drug sales that were used to incriminate Tansky and other suspects, police said, adding that the goal of the operation was to clip the wings of one of the most influential criminal organizations in the country.

The most serious crime Tansky is accused of involved the kidnapping of a young woman related to a member of his crime group. Tansky allegedly abducted her at gunpoint and demanded her family half a million in ransom. When police raided the homes of Tansky and his associates, they found illegal weapons, ammunition and drugs, including crystal meth MDMA and marijuana in large quantities.

“Michael Tansky is one of the most dangerous and violent criminals in Israel, who founded a Russian mafia … and was involved in serious extortion and drug trafficking crimes worth millions of shekels,” a senior police officer told Channel 12, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“Tansky did not know that the man closest to him was our undercover agent who worked with us and passed along information 24 hours a day about what was going on in his organization… He was complacent and arrogant and did not understand we knew everything,” the officer boasted.

The officer said that Tansky had been planning to “take over” the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon where a rival gang led by the recently released criminal Benny Shlomo had been dominant.

Tansky and his associates terrorized the city in recent years with dozens of assassination attempts, the hurling of grenades, and firing of weapons at homes along with extorting businesses and residents of the southern coastal area for millions of shekels, Channel 12 said.

Ido Porat, who is representing Tansky along with four other arrested suspects, said in a statement that his clients are shocked by the arrests and “have no idea what it is about.”

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