An undercover agent who was gunned down earlier this year in an apparent gangland murder was revealed Monday to have been a police agent who successfully infiltrated crime syndicates, foiled plans for a string of attacks and helped gather information that led to the arrest of dozens of suspected underworld criminals.
Anton Roman, 43, was found dead in a field in the central Israeli city of Rehovot in June. His body bore signs of serious violence.
The next day, police arrested five people, including brothers Ofir and Amos Lavi, of Rehovot, believed to be the heads of a known crime family. Another man arrested was also from Rehovot, while the fourth suspect was from Ofakim, in the south of the country, and the fifth from coastal Ashkelon.
Ofir and Amos Lavi have been arrested several times in the past on suspicions of murder, extortion and other crimes.
Roman had previously worked as a guard for the Lavi brothers.
In a Monday statement, police said that Roman’s undercover work over many months had provided information that helped some 250 police officers arrest 47 suspects in a massive swoop on homes in central and southern Israel on Sunday.
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Police, accompanied by dogs trained to sniff out drugs and weapons, raided the homes at the culmination of an operation dubbed “Iron Man.” They seized dozens of vehicles, a drugs laboratory and hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash.
It was, said southern district police commander David Biton, an “exceptional operation in its intensity and scope.”
The arrested men — among them several alleged gangland heads — are suspected of violent offenses, including at least one murder, along with drugs and weapons trafficking, police said.
Immediately after his murder, it was reported that Roman had been under police surveillance for suspected connections to crime syndicates and that he had been arrested in the past on criminal charges.
Anton had infiltrated the gangland organizations, collected incriminating evidence, including guns, explosives and other weaponry, and, as part of his undercover work, bought drugs, including heroin, cannabis and LSD, a police statement said.
The information he provided helped prevent a planned large explosion in the lobby of a multi-story building near a school in the southern city of Ashdod, the statement said.
Anton began his undercover work as tensions between different criminal organizations spiraled into assassinations of key gangland figures.
The suspects rounded up on Sunday will be brought before a court in Ashkelon on Tuesday to extend their remand.