Israeli Crime Boss Refuses to Testify Against Rival

"I'm not afraid of anyone. Only God."  
--Israeli crime boss Ze'ev Rosenstein yesterday.

Amid heavy security, the bosses of two of the most powerful crime families in Israel met in Tel Aviv District Court yesterday in what was slated to be witness testimony.


Incarcerated Israeli crime boss Ze'ev Rosenstein, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for ecstasy distribution, was there to testify against Yitzhak Abergil, who allegedly attempted to murder Rosenstein "multiple times."

Abergil is on trial for murder and global drug smuggling.

Rosenstein took the stand Sunday morning and, in what's been termed a stunning twist, he abruptly refused to answer the prosecutor.

"Everything I had to say, I said to the police. I don't remember. I have nothing to add even if it harms my chances of parole," Rosenstein replied, Ynetnews reported. On his relationship with Abergil, Rosenstein said the two were friendly.

In response, the prosecution and judge called him a hostile witness. His 12-year sentence is now in jeopardy as well, as his credibility in previous statements to police has been called into question.
Abergil speaks with his lawyer (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

According to Abergil's indictment, in 2002, he thought that Rosenstein and two other crime families, the Ohana and Abutbul crime families, had conspired to murder his brother, Ya'akov. Abergil allegedly then ordered several murders, killing Felix Abutbul and Hananya Ohana and a third man.

Organized Crime, Israeli Style
Historically there were 16 crime families operating in Israel; five of the groups were large and national (five families!) while the rest were considered small and regional police forces generally focused on them.

The Aberjil, Abutbul, Mulner, Shirazi and Dumrani crime families are the five largest, and are investigated by Israel's Criminal Investigation Division and the Economic Fraud unit.

The "Israeli crime boss"

READ Reputed Israeli Crime Boss Shipped Back to Middle East  

In the 1980s Israelis set up a crime syndicate in New York.

Thomas (Tommy Karate) Pitera allegedly killed some Israeli mobsters and stole their drugs...

Yehuda (Johnny) Attias, headed the group, which consisted of former Israelis specializing in heroin and cocaine smuggling, as well as gasoline racketeering and extortion. It committed what's been called "the biggest gold heist in the history of Manhattan's jewelry district," as the Forward reported. The haul from the robbery was more than $4 million in gold. 

The group didn't hesitate to murder, and they'd kill for a variety of reasons. In 1999, Michael Markowitz, an Israeli-American and suspected FBI informant, was found dead in his car in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He'd been shot in the head three time. The NYPD has said that New York's Israeli mob did not accept Markowitz because he was an Ashkenazic Jew. The New York-based Israeli mob was exclusively Sephardic.

Attias was murdered in January 1990, and New York's Israeli Mafia fell apart soon after. Several members flipped and the authorities arrested the rest in September of that year.  (Source Blood and Volume: Inside New York's Israeli Mafia.)

Speaking to Congress in 2000, U.S. Customs Service officials noted that "Israeli organized-crime elements appear to be in control" of the multibillion-dollar U.S. ecstasy trade, "from production through the international smuggling phase."

New York based Israeli mobster Ilan Zarger was the main drug supplier of former Gambino crime family underboss Sammy Gravano in his Arizona drug ring.

Sammy the Bull Gravano is out of prison, by the way, according to sources.

Zarger allegedly distributed more than 1 million ecstasy pills from May 1999 to May 2000 (in wholesale value, that's $7 million). He pleaded guilty to running a drug gang that flooded Arizona and New York with almost 4million ecstasy pills over three years.

Oded Tuito reputedly ran one of the largest ecstasy-smuggling organizations ever. It allgedly imported millions of ecstasy pills from Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt into New York, Miami and Los Angeles. He was arrested in May 2001.

READ Israeli police arrest 70 in major raid on organized crime overseas

In 2006 Ze'ev Rosenstein was extradited to the U.S., after being arrested in Israel. He pleaded guilty before a federal court in Florida to charges that he distributed ecstasy pills and was sentenced to 12 years in prison which he has been serving in Israel. In January 2011, Itzik Abergil and Meir Abergil and three other suspects were extradited to the U.S.

The Israeli government made fighting organized crime a priority in January 2006. 

In the next two years, most of the criminal organizations suffered major losses. Eight were "cracked" by police.

The crime families run by Ze'ev Rozenstein and the Aberjil brothers were so badly damaged, it was believed they would never recover, it was reported in 2009.