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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT:
'Russian' Mafia (and General Drugs) Department
1930s-era Jewish gangster


 "An American of Russian Jewish descent, [Robert] Friedman is remarkably well positoned to report on the [Russian] Mafiya, since most Mafiya members are themselves Russian Jews. This curious fact owes its origin to the efforts, during the Nixon administration, of Democratic Senator Henry 'Scoop' Jackson to link trade concessions with Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union ... While the Italian Mafia has a singular link between Italy and America, the Russian Mafiya is more international. Ironically, in a Jewish transit camp near Rome, many Russian-Jewish career crirminals met, exchanged information and departed ... The Russians seem crazier than do the Italians. While the Mafia uses violence to punish enemies ... surgically, the Mafiya will kill the enemy, his wife, his children, and his friends, both as a theatrical warning to competitors and for the sheer joy of tyrannical violence ... Now 30 Russian crime syndicates are operating in at least 17 U. S. cities." Houston Chronicle,
5-14-2000, p. 15




"Because the Russian mob is mostly Jewish, it was a political hot potato, especially in the New York area."
Robert Friedman,
[Houston Chronicle, 5-14-2000, p. 15


In 1994, in Montreal, Canada, Rabbi Meyer Krentzman, a former director of the Canadian Jewish Zionist Federation, former director of the Jewish National Fund of Montreal, and member of the Jewish Educational Council, was arrested for selling cocaine and heroin to an undercover police officer.
Fishkoff, Sue. Montreal Rabbi Arrested on Drug-dealing Charges. Jerusalem Post, p. 1



In 1990, Linda Leary, a former chapter president of the National Council of Jewish Women, was extradited from Austria to stand trial in Indianapolis with her two sons for their prominent role in a drug ring that smuggled at least 250,000 pounds of marijuana into America. Leary "pleaded guilty of charges of racketeering and conspiracy for her part in the ring. She was accused of hiding drug money in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands."
Linda Leary Pleads Guilty in Drug Case, UPI, February 22, 1990

Accountant Faces Drug Sentence,
Totally Jewish, Nov 26, 2001
"A chartered accountant, who played a key role in an international plot to launder millions of pounds worth of Israeli drug money, has been told by the judge to expect a jail sentence. Appearing in Southwark Crown Court, Philip Lyons, from Stanmore, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to converting the proceeds of drug trafficking and criminal conduct between June 1 and March 7 this year. The dad-of-three, who was part of a gang that laundered the proceeds of numerous heroin and ecstasy deals and then sent the money to Spain, was remanded in custody."

The Jewish Laundry of Drug Money
, translated from the Hebrew by Israel Shahak, former head of the Israel Civil Rights Association. [This piece, one of the first looks in English at the Jewish/Israeli involvement in the international drug scene, originally appeared in the Israeli magazine Maariv, September 2, 1994. It can be found here at Zionism and Israeli Apartheid, a pro-Palestinian site]
"In recent months the [US government] Eldorado agents discovered a new center of operations. It is termed The Cocaine Triangle. Its sides are: Colombian drug barons, Israeli-Jewish money launderers and Jewish-Russian mafiosi. The Colombians funnel the money, the Israelis launder it, the Russian mafiosi (who have recently overrun New York in droves) provide the security and the muscle. A New York journalist recently told 'Ma'ariv'; 'The Israeli Jews are gaining notoriety in the money laundering market. You need only look at the list of arrests and the inditements of the past 3 years, in order to grasp the enormous scope of Israeli involvement in that field.'"

Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America.
New York Review of Books
, November 16, 2000 [book review, posted at Center for Defense Information/Johnson's Russia List]
"Whatever the American laws, a successful campaign against Russian mobsters will require the cooperation of other governments, particularly those of Russia and Israel, the two countries that are now the principal residences of most Russian crime bosses ...'Of all the nations where the Russian mob has established a presence, none has been more deeply compromised than the State of Israel,' [Robert] Friedman writes, adding that the Russian mafia has 'become a grave threat to the stability of Israel.' Although this may be a bit hyperbolic, the Russian mafia does have a strong, safe base in Israel -- a story that American and Israeli journalists have largely overlooked. One FBI report observes, for example, that most members of Mogilevich's criminal organization have Israeli passports. And Jonathan Winer told Friedman (when Winer was still the State Department's crime expert), 'There is not a major Russian organized crime figure whom we are tracking who does not also carry an Israeli passport.'"

Red Mafiya, by Robert Friedman. TimeWarner. [sample chapter]
"In the 1970s, more than forty thousand Russian Jews settled in Brighton Beach, the formerly stolid working-class Jewish neighborhood that inspired Neil Simon's gentle play Brighton Beach Memoirs. It was under the shadow of the elevated subway tracks on Brighton Beach Avenue, bustling with Russian meat markets, vegetable pushcarts, and bakeries, that the Russian gangsters resumed their careers as professional killers, thieves, and scoundrels. By the time of [Monya] Elson's arrival, Brighton Beach had already become the seat of the dreaded Organizatsiya, the Russian Jewish mob."

Russian Organized Crime. PBS/Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) Task Force Report (1997)
"To date, U.S. Iaw enforcement officials have established a clear relationship between ROC [Russian Organized Crime] groups and La Cosa Nostra (LCN), the Italian-American criminal network in the United States ... Cooperative efforts between ROC groups and the Colombian drug cartels are centered in Miami, where the local FBI of office characterized the Russian gangsters as 'very brutal...they are very sophisticated. They are computer literate. They hit the ground running.' Miami represents a gateway to both the United States and Latin America ... Two major drug smuggling cases in 1996 illustrate the transnational reach of ROC. The first involved Russians as well as individuals from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belarus, and African countries in an attempt to smuggle four tons of drugs via Russia. The second case involved ROC operations in five West European countries and Russia; the illicit activities led to a joint operation among the involved governments against a transnational drug trafficking group--and to the confiscation of 2.5 tons of drugs. In testimony before the U.S. Senate, FBI director Louis Freeh stated that some 27 ROC groups had been identified as operating in the United States. The activities of these groups are believed to center primarily around such major U.S. cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and New York. One MVD official stated that ROC activities in the United States include money laundering, illegal money transactions, and narcotics trafficking. Other countries with a known and active ROC presence include Germany, with 47 groups; and Italy, with 60 groups. The MVD estimates that over 100 ROC groups are active in at least 50 countries."

US Senate: Russian Mafia Extortion in NHL More Extensive.
Sports Illustrated
, July 8, 1997
"The extent of extortion by the Russian mafia among NHL [National Hockey League] players is greater than previously believed, according to the united States Senate. ESPN, citing a 15-month Senate investigation produced more than 100 interviews with NHL players, officials, owners, team officials and agents, reports that serious conclusions have been made about the Russian mafia's influence among NHL players. There are 50 former Soviet players in the NHL and most of them are Russian ... 'If you add in people who would know firsthand about extortion that occurred, I would venture to say, based upon our investigation, that a significant percentage of Russian hockey players skating in the NHL have been extorted in some way,' Senate investigator Michael Bopp told ESPN. 'Based on the sample of players we spoke to, I would conclude that a third of the players had some direct involvement.'"

The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World.
Village Voice
[New York], May 20-26, 1998
"The enigmatic leader of the [Russian] Red Mafia is a 52-year-old Ukrainian-born Jew named Semion Mogilevich. He is a shadowy figure known as the ''Brainy Don''--he holds an economics degree from the University of Lvov--and until now, he has never been exposed by the media. But the Voice has obtained hundreds of pages of classified FBI and Israeli intelligence documents from August 1996, and these documents--as well as recent interviews with a key criminal associate and with dozens of law enforcement sources here and abroad--describe him as someone who has become a grave threat to the stability of Israel and Eastern Europe ... The FBI and Israeli intelligence assert that he traffics in nuclear materials, drugs, prostitutes, precious gems, and stolen art. His contract hit squads operate in the U.S. and Europe. He controls everything that goes in and out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, a ''smugglers' paradise,'' says [Monya] Elson. Mogilevich bought a bankrupt airline in a former Central Asian Soviet republic for millions of dollars in cash so he could haul heroin out of the Golden Triangle. Most worrisome to U.S. authorities is Mogilevich's apparently legal purchase of virtually the entire Hungarian armaments industry, jeopardizing regional security, NATO, and the war against terrorism."

Telling His Story. ABC news, September 23, 2000
"The man suspected of being at the center of an alleged plot to launder as much as $15 billion through the Bank of New York by the Russian mob today denied any involvement in the scandal that has rocked the international financial establishment. In an exclusive interview with ABCNEWS’ Gillian Findlay, [Jewish Russian mobster] Semyon Mogilevich — who describes himself as a publisher and consultant to a cereal company — says the allegations have ruined him."

The Traffickers. Russian Crime Groups and Syndicates.
U. S. Department of State

"The Director of Operation Odessa, a Florida task force designed to combat Russian organized crime, believes that individual criminals, not necessarily organized crime, are trafficking Russian women to Florida. He claims that women are being trafficked to Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Jackson, Palm Beach, and increasingly the Florida panhandle. In his opinion, Russian entrepreneurs, with ties to Russian organized crime, are importing women for Florida's sex industry. For example, one Russian, Sergey Skobeltsyn, with alleged ties to the Russian organized crime group Kazanskaya, bought two strip clubs, Pure Platinum and Solid Gold, for $8 million dollars in late 1996. And Ludwig Fainberg [who once served in the Israeli army; Navarro, Mireya. New York Times, 3-7-97, p. A22], a Russian mafia figure with alleged ties to Colombian drug traffickers, was also heavily involved in running a strip club called Porkys, which likely involved trafficked women. FBI headquarters also has information that the following major Russian organized crime syndicates— the Izmailovskaya, Dagestantsy, Kazanskaya, and Solntsenskaya— are involved in the prostitution industry throughout the United States. Given the way these organized crime syndicates operate overseas and the brutality of these organizations, it is likely that this involvement in the US includes trafficking in women through the use of deception, threats, and violence."

Russian 'Mafiya' Takes on NY. The Russia Journal. May 15, 2000
"Police and investigators in New York told The Observer that they are connecting a sudden string of brutal murders to the mighty Russian 'Mafiya' who are taking over the city's underworld and pose what one source calls 'by far our greatest threat to stability and the rule of law' ... Ex-Bank of New York Executive Lucy Edwards [born Ludmilla Pritzker] and Peter Berlin admitted to masterminding the largest money-laundering scheme in U.S. history involving as much as $10 billion in 160,000 wire transfers, mostly connected to the Russian mob, corrupt Russian banks and their gun-toting clients. Two other murders have been handed over to the crime squad specializing in the Russian mafia. Orthodox Russian Jew Mark Simon's bullet-riddled body was found last month. He was allegedly involved in massive credit card fraud."

Russian Jewish Leader Charged with Kidnap.
The Independent
[Great Britain], January 25, 2001
"The deputy head of the Russian Jewish Congress, Mikhail Mirilashvili, has been arrested in St Petersburg and charged with kidnapping two people. The chairman of the congress, Vladimir Gusinsky, a media magnate, is already under house arrest in Spain after Moscow demanded his extradition. Police say the two cases are unconnected, but the Russian Jewish community will be alarmed that the authorities are pursuing two of its most prominent members. Mr Mirilashvili, who holds joint Israeli and Russian citizenship [so does Gusinksky], was due to leave Russia this week with the Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, who is on a state visit. Mr Mirilashvili is a director of the St Petersburg company Russian Video, which was bought by Media-Most, controlled by Mr Gusinsky, in 1997. Mr Gusinsky was later accused of defrauding the state by buying the company for $10m (£6.6m) - well below its real value. Over the past year the Kremlin has relentlessly feuded with Mr Gusinsky and Media-Most, which owns much of the independent media in Russia, because of its criticism of the government."

Spain Holds Israeli Drug Lord Wanted by U.S.
[Associated Press/Haaretz] May 23, 2001
"An Israeli [Oded Tuito] described as a major international smuggler of the drug Ecstasy is in custody in Spain awaiting a court decision on an American request for his extradition ...Spanish newspapers report that Tuito ran a massive smuggling operation in Europe, Israel, and the United States ... Israeli crime syndicates with links to Russian mobs are the primary source of Ecstasy smugglied in the United States, according to the DEA."

'Sammy the Bull' Trial Lifts Veil on Israelis in Ecstasy Trade.
[Jewish] Forward, January 19, 2001
"A celebrated mob informant's trial on drug-distribution charges is opening a window on an aspect of the drug trade that many New Yorkers would rather ignore. According to federal and local law enforcement officials, Israeli criminals have cornered the market on the drug ecstasy, controlling by some accounts as much as 75% of the American market ... According to the Drug Enforcement Agency's web page, 'In recent years, Israeli organized crime syndicates, some composed of Russian émigrés associated with Russian organized crime syndicates, have forged relationships with Western European traffickers, and gained control over a significant share of the European market. The Israeli syndicates are currently the primary sources to U.S. distribution groups." ... 'There are a lot of Israeli criminals in the three major hubs, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, so they didn't have to reinvent the wheel," Mr. Abramovsky said ... In July 1999, after a 21-month investigation, a joint federal-state organized crime-drug enforcement task force uncovered a smuggling operation that relied mostly on carriers of an unexpected nature in the drug business: young chasidic men. ... Sean Erez, an Israeli who according to the authorities ran the ring, is still in Amsterdam, where authorities are weighing a request for extradition to the United States. In February 2000, another ecstasy ring ran by Israeli citizens was exposed in Queens, N.Y. The group, allegedly headed by Oshri Amar, the son of a famous 1950s-era Israeli pop singer, was alleged by authorities to be distributing MDMA in clubs on the East Coast and in California. Some of these clubs made huge headlines in the New York press in the mid-1990s, where they were dubbed 'drug bazaars' ... Drug officials assert that additional side effects include anxiety and depression, and in the long run also permanent brain damage. The ecstasy trade is building a new reputation for Israeli criminal muscle, especially when combined with Russian gangs."

Stripper-Hasid Connection Bared by 'Ecstasy' Bust. New York Post. May 25, 2001
"An international 'ecstasy' kingpin [Israeli Oded Tuito], busted for smuggling the mind-bending pill into New York, was using leggy strippers, Hasidic teens in yarmulkes, and senior citizens as New Age drug mules, authorities say ... An Israeli national, named Sean Erez, allegedly tutored by Tuito in ecstasy smuggling, had risen through the ranks of Tuito's drug mob ... [Erez] hired Hasidic high-school boys ... These are kids who spend hours a day in the synagogue ... Federal Judge Leo Glasser ... sentenced nearly a dozen local Hasidic men. In March, Miami authorities busted a 71-year old retired Queens tailor ... Machloof Ben-Chitrit."

Ecstasy Lord Cops Plea Deal. New York Post, June 28, 2001
"An international "ecstasy" kingpin, whose organization flooded the United States with the popular club drug, is facing 17 years in prison after copping a plea in federal court yesterday. Prosecutors charge Jacob Orgad, 45, sold hundreds of thousands of pills to Israeli national Ilan Zarger. Zarger pleaded guilty in January to overseeing a ring that the feds say supplied Salvatore 'Sammy Bull' Gravano."

Two Israelis Arrested in Largest Drug Bust in NYC History.
Jerusalem Post
, July 20, 2001
"Two Israeli citizens were arrested Tuesday night in Manhattan on drug possession charges after police seized more than a million Ecstasy tablets, the largest drug bust in New York City history. Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik announced Wednesday that David Roash, 25, and Israel Ashkenazi, 28, both of Tel Aviv, were being held in Queens Criminal Court pending drug possession charges. The two face eight and a half years to life in prison if convicted. The pink, blue, and white Ecstasy pills, which weighed a total of 450 pounds and have a street value $40 million, and nearly $200,000 in cash were found in a studio apartment near the financial district."

International Ecstasy Ring Smashed By Police
. Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2001
"An Ecstasy-smuggling ring has been cracked by the Israel Police, in collaboration with its counterparts in the US and Europe. Seventeen Israelis are being held in Spain and the US, and more arrests are expected. The ring is believed to have operated for a year. The investigation began in March, when the Northern District police learned that an Ecstasy ring led by Oded Tuito was still active, although he was under arrest in Barcelona on different charges. The district passed information it had to the various countries concerned, and set up joint surveillance operations. A big break came when three Israelis - Eitan and Erez Noi and Yosef Hotvashvilli - were arrested in Barcelona for several jewelry-store heists, which turned up enough evidence to arrest Michel Elkayam - believed to have led the Ecstasy ring in lieu of Tuito - and his accomplices in North America."

A Scourge of Drugs Strikes a Pious Place
. U.S.News, March 6, 2000
"Over the past year, the number of calls about children abusing drugs in Orthodox communities 'has skyrocketed,' says Benzion Twerski, a physician who runs the substance-abuse program at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, N.J. Among the reported problems: young Orthodox dealers selling drugs such as ecstasy, heroin, and crack cocaine to their schoolmates, and Orthodox drug users stealing from their parents to support their habits. The Drug Enforcement Administration last fall reported that Russian and Israeli organized-crime groups had become the major transporters of the stimulant ecstasy into the United States. Prosecutors say these syndicates sometimes sell to neophyte dealers in New York's Orthodox communities. In January, federal investigators charged a Brooklyn businessman and four other ultra-Orthodox Jewish men with conspiring to sell 180,000 ecstasy pills to an informant, then laundering the money through a local Jewish religious school. Last summer, federal authorities indicted seven people, at least two of them Orthodox teenagers, in a scheme to supply millions of ecstasy tablets to partyers at late-night clubs in New York City and Miami Beach. The feds say dealers recruited young men from ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sects in Brooklyn, believing that their black hats, dark suits, side curls, and religious affiliation would throw off cops. And just last week, six Israeli nationals and more than 20 of their alleged buyers and suppliers were arrested for allegedly carrying out a multimillion-dollar scheme using young Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox drug couriers."

Israel's Other Export. Moment, August-September 2001
"Ecstasy, along with marijuana, hashish, heroin, and cocaine, is heavily used and traded in Israel today, in what some call a sign of the times. Contemporary Israel is an affluent, drug-consuming country—with an estimated 300,000 casual drug users and some 20,000 junkies [from at total man, woman, and child population of about 6million]. There are no reliable statistics on Ecstasy use in Israel, but in 2000 alone, police confiscated 270,000 Ecstasy tablets from smugglers, students, and partygoers in a series of stings. That same year, according to an online report by the Israeli Authority for Combating Drugs, Israeli agents confiscated more than 80 kilograms of heroin, 30 kilograms of hashish, 8,885 kilograms of marijuana, and nearly 8,000 'sheets' (resembling sheets of postage stamps) of LSD ... According to a report of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, 75 percent of all crime in Israel is drug-related ... According to a U.S. State Department White Paper on Global Narcotics, issued in 1998, the Jewish State is 'a drug-consuming country with serious marijuana, hashish and heroin use, and a growing problem of cocaine, LSD, and amphetamine consumption.' But perhaps more striking, the report found that Israel is 'no longer just a user nation, but like Colombia, Thailand and Pakistan, it has also now become a trafficking power.' Authorities say Israeli crime groups have for several years had a virtual monopoly on global distribution of Ecstasy ... So how did organized Israeli crime rings become so adept at distributing and marketing Ecstasy globally? According to Antwerp police, Israelis have had smuggling networks in place for years: They shipped stolen diamonds through Brussels and Amsterdam to points worldwide."

Heroin Scandal Rocks London's Devout Jewish Community.
The Independent
[London], [posted here at the Media Awareness Project, a drug policy reform group], July 25, 1998
"The Orthodox Jewish community has been shocked by a series of arrests of its members for alleged heroin smuggling. Police and Customs inquiries are centering on a drugs link between Israel, Antwerp and London ... Police in several European countries began to suspect that the diamond area of Antwerp was becoming an international centre for drug smuggling two years ago when an Orthodox Jewish man from Antwerp was arrested at Ramsgate. Dror Hazenfratz ... from Antwerp, was jailed for 11 years for trying to smuggle heroin ... Hazenfratz, who was born in Haifa and holds an Israeli passport as well as a Belgian identity card, appeared in Canterbury court wearing traditional dress and carrying the Talmud ... Hazenfratz said he had been told to meet a Georgian Orthodox Jew at a north London hotel. The ultimate destination of the drugs was reputedly David Santini, a Glaswegian who, at the time, was Scotland's leading heroin dealer ... British drugs officers suspect they are seeing the beginning of a new drug operation involving Antwerp's Orthodox Jews and the Russian Mafia ... Last week, evidence of the violence associated with drug crime surfaced again in Antwerp. A Jewish trader in precious metals in the city, Rachmeil 'Mike' Brandwain, also reputed to be a leading figure in the Russian Mafia, was shot dead."

Rabbi Charged with Sneaking Drugs into Prison. Corpus Christi Caller Times [from Associated Press], October 16, 1998
"A diminutive 73-year-old rabbi in a rumpled pinstripe suit was released without bail Thursday on a charge he smuggled drugs into a federal prison in the Adirondacks where he ministered to inmates. Eli Gottesman, a former 'Rabbi of the Year,' has pleaded innocent to the charge of attempting to provide contraband, a felony. Authorities say Gottesman tried to smuggle a bottle of Pert Plus shampoo filled with cocaine and marijuana encased in balloons into the Federal Correctional Institute at Ray Brook, in the Adirondack Mountains. 'God knows I didn't do anything wrong. I was tricked,' Gottesman said after his court hearing. Gottesman was arrested by a special agent of the U.S. Justice Department on Oct. 7. Authorities said he had been under investigation for the past several months by prison officials, as well the Justice Department, the FBI, and state police."

The Jewish Club in Cell Block 2. The Jerusalem Report, December 20, 1999
"Shimon Dahan is doing time ... [in] Bangkok’s Bangkwang Central Prison for the past six years. Dahan is serving a 100-year sentence for smuggling a derivative of the poppy - heroin ... Among the other inmates in his Block 2 are three fellow Jews - all also lifers for drug offenses ... They have pulled together and carved out a life of comparative luxury for themselves. With cash sent in by friends and relatives, they bought themselves into the same cell, then bribed the guards to have only 10 other inmates in their 215-square-foot quarters, not the standard 20, and allow them sleeping mats, bottled water, and a diet of meat, fruit and vegetables. Two years ago, the four 'leased' a $500-a-year cell for their 'Jewish House.' It’s an exclusive club equipped with a table and chairs, bookshelves and a color TV ...The little brotherhood's membership badge is the yarmulkes they wear inside their sanctuary, where they have painted a large Star of David on the floor. Here they hold Shabbat services and eat kosher food sent in by the rabbi ... In his five years there, Stephen Roye has deteriorated from an Emmy-winning American television producer to a fading shadow. As a freelancer who had produced several anti-drug documentaries in the 1980s, he said he volunteered to run heroin from Bangkok to his native Los Angeles. He hoped it would revive his flagging career by getting the inside story of drug smuggling. He got no further than Bangkok airport."

15 Most Wanted Fugitive Steven Wolosky Arrested at Bus Stop.
U.S. Marshals' Service Press Release
, June 9, 2000
"United States Marshals Service Director John W. Marshall announced that alleged narcotic trafficker Steven M. Wolosky was arrested yesterday in Manchester, New Hampshire. Wolosky, led a drug ring responsible for the importation of more than 400,000 pounds of marijuana and hashish from Colombia and Thailand. 'He was a top ranking figure in an international maritime smuggling and distribution ring," said Marshall. 'His organization includes another TOP 15 MOST WANTED fugitive, Mark Stephen Gayer. Both men have been sought for more than a decade.' Wolosky and Gayer were indicted in March 1988, and later released on $500,000 bonds. Upon release, the two attempted to fake their deaths in a ruse to convince law enforcement that they had died in a boating accident off the California coast."

Mr. Nice. This is the entrepreneurial home page of Howard Marks, a famous British-based drug dealer who is now a performer and drug advocate after his release from an Indiana prison. He served seven years of a 25-year sentence for his role in the international drug trade. "At the height of his smuggling operation, Mr. Marks was reputedly responsible for the majority of the marijuana smoked in the western world in the 1970s and early 1980s." [Hull Daily Mail, 2-7-2000, p. 4] "The head of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in Miami once called Marks 'the Marco Polo' of drug trafficking'." [Dening, Penelope. The Irish Times, September 7, 1996] Information about a Jewish heritage is hard to come by. We may note, however, that Marks' daughter Myfanwy lives in Israel. [Campbell, Duncan. The Guardian {London}.Second Front: Howard's Way ..., April 26, 1995, p.12]

Drug Lords Enjoy Mot of George's Kindness. Daily Illini, July 14, 1992
"Read about Max Mermelstein (the 'godfather of cocaine') who co-authored the book, The Man Who Made it Snow. This sweetheart did not merely smuggle 56 tons of coke into our country; he also admitted in sworn testimony at the Noriega trial to involvement in a number of murders. He also bribed officials in three different Latin American countries. His possible sentence of 90 years was reduced to time served (2 years, 21 days), and the man walked in return for sticking it to Noriega. Mermelstein did forfeit $1 million in drug proceeds, but made much more that and also cashed in $700,000 in U.S. reward money, plus about that much more from WPP. Why did he get so much from WPP? Because you and I paid for all 17 members of his family and, as he testified, 'some of them had babies' and he's 'not sure where the number stands now.' I will never again claim that George Bush has no child-care policy. You couldn't prove it by looking at the Mermelsteins." Mermelstein was once described by his lawyer as 'just a nice Jewish guy who got into the wrong industry.' [Murphy, Kim. One Man's Word Against the World's Most Dangerous Cocaine Cartel. Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1987, pt. 1, p. 3]

The Aaron Cohen Affair
. World Corporal Punishment Research.
This is an archive (1987-1997) of mass media materials about Aaron Cohen and his mother Lorraine Cohen, New Zealand citizens, caught smuggling drugs in Malaysia in 1985. Ms. Cohen ("a self-confessed prostitute and heroin addict") was originally sentenced to death for trafficking 140.76 grams of heroin. Aaron was sentenced to life in prison, and caning (public whipping), for possessing 34.14 grams. They were both pardoned in 1996.

Man Charged in Killing of Former Partner in Crime.
Montreal Gazette, May 8, 2001
"A Montreal man was charged and police are looking for five other people believed to be involved in a Notre Dame de Grace drug deal that went sour and ended with a homicide. Jacob Cohen-Shiri, 24, of Montreal, appeared briefly in court yesterday to face charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder ... The shooting took place one day after the third anniversary of a court date in which Cohen-Shiri, Khezravani and another man pleaded guilty to committing armed robbery. They had also been charged with conspiracy and weapons charges related to the incident."

Family Pleads for Life of Man Who Slew Parents. Forward, 9-8-2000
"A Great Neck, N.Y., man who confessed to the gruesome murder of his parents last year has been spared the death penalty thanks to the intervention of his relatives, the prosecutor said. Resolving a case that shone an unexpectedly sordid light on an affluent, largely Jewish suburb of New York City, Adam Roberts, 23, pleaded guilty last week to intentionally killing his mother, Ronna and his father Seth in November, and then setting fire to their opulent Woodstock country home to hide the crime. In a deal offered by the court, Roberts is expected to be sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison on October 6. Following Roberts's arrest last year, Ulster County District Attorney Donald A. Williams strongly considered seeking the death penalty, but decided not to because of the pleas of his relatives. 'This is a special and unique case, the most critical aspect of which is that the victims' families are unanimous in requesting leniency,' Mr. Williams said. Roberts's defense attorney, Howard Weiswasser, said that at the time of the murder, Roberts was suffering from an intense heroin withdrawal and an adverse reaction to a medication recently prescribed to detoxify him."

The 20th Century in Review (1980-89). San Diego Metropolitan
"Richard Silberman, San Diego mover and shaker, is busted by the FBI for laundering what he believed to be drug money. Sentenced to 46 months in prison, he and wife Susan Golding [the mayor of San Diego, and also Jewish] divorce."

Berezovsky's Daughter Arrested
. St. Petersburg Times [Russia], May 15, 1998 "Yelizaveta Berezovskaya, the daughter of [Jewish Russian] billionaire tycoon-turned-politician Boris Berezovsky, who was detained in St. Petersburg last Saturday for cocaine possession, may be released with only a fine despite carrying an amount large enough to be punishable by up to three years in jail, according to the city's police chief. Anatoly Ponidelko told Interfax that because Berezovskaya, 27, handed the cocaine to police voluntarily, she will avoid a jail sentence, in spite of strict new drug laws enacted in Russia just last month."

Sacrifical Lamb
. Village Voice, February 27, 2001
"Toward the end of a recent hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Judge Plummer E. Lott asked Rabbi Yitzchak Fried, who like so many other drug defendants in New York was waiving his right to trial and pleading guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence, if he had any questions about the charges against him. The Brooklyn district attorney's office had charged Fried with selling a total of more than seven ounces of marijuana to a police informant on five occasions in Borough Park. Under the plea, Fried would not serve more than three years in prison ... The judge asked if he had sold the marijuana. Fried answered stonily, 'I sold it. But not for profit.' 'Well, you may be a bad businessman. . . . ' 'I was not doing business,' Fried said. 'It was medical marijuana.'"

Police Tell of Smashing Arms Ring. St. Petersburg Times, June 20, 2000
"A joint operation by U.S., Israeli and Colombian authorities may have thwarted one of Latin America's largest illegal arms deals, interrupting alleged plans to ship as many as 50,000 AK-47 automatic rifles, as well as other weapons, to armed groups in Colombia. Police in Colombia and Israel who infiltrated what they described as a $100-million arms smuggling ring say the deal was being underwritten with large sums of counterfeit dollars being manufactured in Colombia, as well as cash from cocaine sales. In coordinated operations police in Israel and Colombia made five arrests last month. Three Israelis were detained in Colombia as part of Operation God of Death, and large amounts of forged dollar notes were seized. Two more Israelis were arrested in Tel Aviv in an Israeli police investigation dubbed Operation Aging Boy ... There is a heavy Israeli presence in both Colombia and Ecuador. Ex-Israeli commandos and security experts are accused of having armed and trained the private armies of Colombia's notorious drug cartels. Israel has also provided official anti-terrorist training for the government of Colombia, as well as legal arms sales."

Israelis Nabbed in Huge Hamburg Ecstasy Bust,
Jerusalem Post, November 22, 2001
"German police on Tuesday arrested two Israelis unloading a truck that contained 1.5 million Ecstasy pills, capping a long drug investigation by German, Dutch, Australian, and Israeli police into international Ecstasy trafficking by Israelis. Police said the infiltration of the drug ring represents the largest and most sweeping action in recent history against international Ecstasy trafficking, in which Israelis are known to be deeply involved. German detectives encountered the suspects unloading a truck with Dutch license plates near Hamburg Port. A search turned up the pills hidden in containers of artificial flowers. The two Israeli suspects, Uzi Gutman, 55, from Elkana, and Yosef Raphaelovitz, 41, from Jerusalem, were arrested, in addition to their Dutch driver."

Daughter of Vidal Sassoon Dies of Drug Overdose After New Year Party,
Independent [London], January 5, 2002
"Catya Sassoon, the hard-living and hard-partying daughter of the celebrity hairdresser Vidal, died of a suspected drug overdose after a New Year's Eve party. Some would call it an almost predictable end to a life riddled with excess. A former actress and model, Ms Sassoon, 33, was born into a high-achieving world in a Los Angeles household ... Her natural good looks, however, proved perfect for the industry and shortly after joining the fashionable Prestige Agency she found success. Standing at 5ft 8ins tall and only eight stone in weight, she had a svelte figure said to be enhanced by cosmetic surgery. As many others have been, she was drawn into the lifestyle the modelling industry offered. By the time she was 21, she was allegedly hooked on drugs and a regular at detox clinics."

Accountant Faces Drug Sentence, Totally Jewish, November 26, 2001
"A chartered accountant, who played a key role in an international plot to launder millions of pounds worth of Israeli drug money, has been told by the judge to expect a jail sentence. Appearing in Southwark Crown Court, Philip Lyons, from Stanmore, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to converting the proceeds of drug trafficking and criminal conduct between June 1 and March 7 this year. The dad-of-three, who was part of a gang that laundered the proceeds of numerous heroin and ecstasy deals and then sent the money to Spain, was remanded in custody .... Lyons will only be sentenced after the trial of Abraham Israel, 31, of Cadoxton Avenue, Stamford Hill, who pleaded not guilty to the same two charges and denies assisting another in the retention of the benefits of drug trafficking and criminal conduct."

A Country for Sale, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2001
"Israel's growing reputation as a major money-laundering center is threatening to undermine its international financial standing ... In 1997 sources estimated that Israel was attracting some $4 billion to $5b. annually in laundered money - presumably this number has only increased since then. In Israel many people have been quick to blame the influx of Russian immigrants for Israel's recent positioning as one of the money-laundering capitals of the world. Reportedly, the Russian 'mafia' has taken advantage of the country's liberal immigration and banking secrecy laws to introduce the laundered money, using immigrants as couriers or fronts. However, it is wrong to assume that without the Russians there would be no money laundering in Israel, as many South Americans, Israelis and international diamond dealers are believed to have long used Israel as a money-laundering safe haven ...The stereotypes behind some Russian immigrants and their alleged mafia affiliations have been reinforced by a number of high-profile money-laundering investigations, including that of businessman Zvi Ben-Ari (formerly Gregory Lerner), who, in 1998 pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and bank fraud. Recent headlines include the ongoing investigation of well-known businessman Gad Ze'evi, who has been questioned by the police for allegedly involving Russian businessmen suspected of money laundering in his 1999 acquisition of 20% of telecommunications company Bezeq for $630m."

'Israeli Mafia' Members End Up Dead in S.Africa,
Jewish Bulletin of Northern California
The 'Israeli mafia' has made headlines in South Africa following the recent discovery of the body of an alleged group member. Shai Avishar, 36, disappeared from the trendy Johannesburg suburb of Norwood last October. His body was discovered in a shallow grave some 40 miles away following a tip-off to police ... Avishar allegedly had contacts with a reputed mob leader in Israel, Yossi Harari. Avishar and his former wife, Johannesburg socialite Hazel Crane, were friends of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who has remained a prominent and influential politician since her divorce from former President Nelson Mandela a few years ago ... Police suspect that Avishar was murdered by another member of the syndicate after an apparent double-cross in a diamond deal. Police have linked an additional two murders to the syndicate, and they suspect a third .. Motti Raz, who came to South Africa in 1996, apparently launched the so-called 'Israeli mafia.' He was later killed and his body found, also in a shallow grave, near Johannesburg. The syndicate has been implicated in various crimes, including illegal diamond dealing, drug trafficking, protection payments and illegal firearms. It is said to operate primarily in the three largest cities in South Africa -- Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban -- where Jews have been the prime targets of the group. The police say that four syndicate members have been killed so far, all by their own people. 'They are powerful, but they are killing their own people because they are too greedy,' the police spokesman said."

An Ex-Con With a Rabbinical Calling, Moment magazine, 2002
"Mark Borovitz went from the state penitentiary to the rabbinate. Now he helps strung-out Hollywood writers and producers recover from addiction. When Mark Borovitz tells you he was a thief, a con man, a convicted felon, an armed robber, a drunk, a crooked used car salesman (regularly dialing back odometers), and an embezzler, you think, I can believe that. After all, he looks the part. Borovitz is a large man with a scraggly brown and white beard. He walks with a tough-guy swagger and isn't afraid to confront anyone with brutal honesty. He is often loud, and he peppers his conversations with four-letter words. What is hard to believe, at first glance, is that Borovitz has shed his sordid past for a more time-honored profession. Borovitz is a rabbi—spiritual leader of Beit T'Shuvah, a drug rehabilitation facility on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Today, he helps strung-out Hollywood writers and producers, among others, recover from drug and alcohol addiction ... Between 1980 and 1988, Borovitz was in and out of state and county prisons—serving a total of six years for armed robbery, insurance fraud, and check kiting ... .Martin Rips, who was producer and chief writer for TV's Coach and Three's Company, credits Borovitz with helping him overcome a heroin addiction. Busted for possession in 1995, Rips was brought before a judge for sentencing. As Rips tells it, Borovitz had received word that Rips was about to be sentenced and literally 'came running down the aisle, coat flying' in the courtroom. He got the judge to agree to turn Rips over to him for rehabilitation through Beit T'Shuvah. Rips says Borovitz is the perfect charismatic leader. 'I've seen Mark get up a 2 a.m. and drive six hours because someone needed his help,' Rips says. 'If there's a Jewish soul in trouble, Mark will be there.' According to Rips, one of Borovitz's strengths is that he is not afraid to deliver tough love, even in a room filled with junkies and ex-cons. 'Mark gets into people's faces and tells them what they're doing wrong,' Rips says. "He senses the con in people—and he's a hell of a salesman.'"

Federal Court Misconduct Creates an Incident in Costa Rica,
texas-justice.com (from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), November 24, 1998
"Israel Abel says the United States violated his rights when it secured his extradition from Costa Rica, and Costa Rican officials agree. They have filed formal charges against a high-ranking Justice Department employee, saying he lied to circumvent Costa Rican law. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette) Federal agents believed Israel Abel was a leader in a major cocaine smuggling ring in the 1980s that imported 3 tons of cocaine from Colombia to Miami. They wanted him so badly that they were willing to go to lengths that would lead another country to file criminal charges against U.S. officials. In 1991, a federal grand jury indicted Abel and several others on drug-smuggling charges, but by then he had been living in Costa Rica for five years and, by most accounts, was no longer in the drug business. But federal agents were so desperate to bring him to trial that they violated his most basic rights and then tried to cover up their actions, Abel's lawyers charge. Because of the magnitude of the charges against him, it seems unlikely any court will intervene, even though the government of Costa Rica has issued criminal arrest warrants against the former deputy attorney general to Attorney General Janet Reno and a former U.S. Consular officer because of their conduct. The U.S. government extradited Abel in 1992. The Justice Department sent Deputy Attorney General Richard Scruggs, a former Miami federal prosecutor, to Costa Rica. Costa Rican police then arrested Abel and turned him over to U.S. agents on an American jetliner. He was brought home, tried and sentenced to four life sentences in prison."

Smuggler Sells Out His Lawyer to Strike a Deal,
texas-justice.com
(from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), November 24, 1998
"Charles Goldman smuggled drugs - a lot of them - and he was facing serious prison time when federal agents proposed a deal. They would offer leniency if Goldman would testify against his own lawyer and a South Florida police officer on charges that they had avoided paying taxes on illicit drug income. Since the charges involved tax evasion, Goldman worked closely with an Internal Revenue Service agent, Synda Smith, 38. Attorney David Arnold and Opa Locka Police Officer Armando Coto received 15-year prison terms in February 1993, based largely on Goldman's testimony. What they didn't know, and what they're citing in their request for new trials, is that Goldman and Smith had sex several times while they were conferring about his testimony. The two conducted the affair in a prosecutor's lounge at the courthouse, which is known as 'the Igloo' because of the frigid conditions that the air conditioning system creates there. 'Evidently, these Arctic conditions were no impediment to Agent Smith and Mr. Goldman,' said defense lawyer Michael Tarre in court papers. Smith later admitted the affair to federal investigators. Arnold and Coto say Smith's liaison with Goldman tainted his testimony, that Goldman embellished his story in return for Smith's favors."

Israel, OGD (Observatoire Geopolitique Des Drogues)
"The Russian mafia is arriving in the luggage of recent migrants and Israeli society is relegating an increasingly prevalent drug problem to the background ... Drugs, whose impact on Israeli society is underestimated, are also used as a political and even military tool when they are distributed to the enemy in order to diminish its combativity. Nevertheless, Israel still periodically accuses Syrian and Lebanese authorities to be involved in drug trafficking ...As far as drugs are concerned, the ties between Israel and South Africa are another example of the adverse effects of Israeli foreign policy. During the international embargo against the regime of apartheid, the traditional warm relations existing between both countries based on the diamond industry gave rise to secret connections through classical diamond trading networks (Antwerp, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, New York). The latter appear to be linking Belgium and South Africa to Israel ever since the Russian mafia has become a significant player in the diamond industry. Many religious organizations, including fundamentalist groups like the Lubaviches, who were widely viewed as the guardians of moral values, do not place much importance on the drug problem. Some of their spiritual leaders, who also lead political parties, are protected by parliamentary immunity while they are wanted by European and American authorities ... The truth is that prostitution, money laundering, drug consumption and trafficking are assuming worrying proportions throughout the land. The inadequate training – indeed, corruption – of neighborhood police is another sign of deterioration. The press reported that three Israeli ministers decided to stroll down the now infamous Allenby Street in Tel Aviv on Friday, August 25, 1996 to observe for themselves the extent of trafficking. They saw dealers distributing bags of cannabis in front of the local police station, and other drugs being sold along the street and in bars. Following this media exposure, the press has reported several scandals in which police have either shaken down dealers or extorted the cash and valuables of suspects when arrested. Other officers have been accused of direct involvement in drugs ... The Israeli banking system, like the one in nearby Cyprus, offers limitless possibilities for recycling dirty money. Israeli banks have off-shore branches and firms in Europe, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and Southeast Asia, effectively guaranteeing anonymity for deposits in hard currency, free circulation of funds throughout the world, and the possibility of converting them into gold."

Six Indicted on Narcotics Charge,
USA Today, October 25, 2002
"Six men alleged to be members of an international drug gang, including a man who refused to leave a house where drugs were stashed as the World Trade Center collapsed two blocks away, were indicted on narcotics charges. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said the Israel-based gang mostly sold Ecstasy, a popular club-drug that they imported from Holland, but also trafficked in cocaine, hashish and marijuana ... Zwi Haim Harris, 30, was found by firefighters in an apartment house two blocks north of the World Trade Center a few hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack ... 'Despite the fact that the Trade Center towers were collapsing right across the street, he didn't leave his post,' special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan said. Police later obtained a search warrant and seized more than 3,000 Ecstasy pills, hashish, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and two guns and numerous rounds of ammunition ... The gang's leader, Yigal Dobakrov, 37, had 50,000 Ecstasy pills worth $1.25 million, he said. Dobakarov is an Israeli citizen who has an arrest record there ... Also arrested were Michael Brenman, 29, said to be a wholesale distributor in the New York metropolitan area; Allen Agureyev, 48, accused of delivering drugs to dealers and carried payments after Brenman made deals; Lior Hajaj, 28 ..."

Mobster's Paradise, The Jerusalem Report, 1995
On December 25, 1994, half a dozen men gathered in a hotel suite on the Tel Aviv beachfront to plan the operations of a multi-billion-dollar international concern based in New York. The meeting was held in Russian. The business under discussion was crime. The men were top figures in one of the five 'families' that make up the Organizatsiya - the dreaded Russian underworld that plays a major role in drugs, prostitution, extortion and theft in the U.S. Like other high-level members of the families, all had passed simple requirements for advancement: time served in the gulag, and two murders. The meeting, The Jerusalem Report has learned, was at least the third by top Organizatsiya figures in Israel in the last two years. Israel has become a safe haven and a base of operations for the Russian mobsters. Exploiting Israel's weak connections to international law enforcement, the crime kingpins gather here to make decisions that can include which competitors to rub out, how to invest millions of dollars earned in criminal businesses, and how to channel drugs to Europe. While those meetings have focused on Organizatsiya operations elsewhere, the U.S.-based mobsters and their compatriots in the CIS also exploit Israel's liberal currency and banking regulations to launder money from crime in Russia and syphon it to the West. And Israel also serves as a transit point on a drug route from South America to Europe ...Perhaps the biggest of the Russian 'dons,' says the FBI, is Boris Nayfeld. A burly bodybuilder, Nayfeld allegedly controls an international ring smuggling millions of dollars worth of heroin into the U.S."

Russian Ukrainian Crime Groups Set to Corner Global Drug Market,
Strategic Forecasting, April 8, 2002
"Another possibility is that the Bush administration has not directly addressed the issue of how to deal with these crime syndicates that are supplying weapons to militant groups because the majority of the Russian and Ukrainian crime lords that would be targeted are Jewish citizens of Israel. According to former State Department official Jonathan Winer, all 75 of the top Russian and Ukrainian crime kingpins the U.S. government was tracking worldwide at the end of the 1990s were citizens of Israel. Robert I. Friedman -- a Ukrainian-American investigative reporter who is also Jewish and has written extensively about the Russian and Ukrainian mafia -- claims that efforts by U.S. federal law enforcement officials to investigate suspected mafia leaders have been blocked internally for years by higher-ups in the U.S. government, or have been hindered by negative publicity asserting that the investigations were motivated by anti-Semitism ... In the United States, these groups already have pulled off some the biggest insurance, Medicare and stock frauds in history. They also run sophisticated Internet credit card scams, deal in counterfeit currencies and launder money, traffic narcotics and weapons, run gambling and protection rackets, manage prostitution and sex slave industries, and steal gasoline and other fuels. Ukrainian Jewish mafia kingpins also reportedly laundered about $9 billion through the Bank of New York during Russia's financial meltdown in 1998, and are believed to be fixing games in the National Hockey League. Outside the United States, these crime syndicates are supplying weapons to insurgents, paramilitaries and drug traffickers in Colombia, Brazil and the Andean region. For example, Ukrainian mobsters operating from Tel Aviv and Kiev are believed to have participated in the shipment of 10,000 AK-47s to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 1998 through former Peruvian spy chief Vladimir Montesinos. Mafia groups based in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles and Brighton Beach in New York City have also negotiated strategic partnerships with Mexico's Tijuana cartel in Baja California, and with drug traffickers in Colombia, to ship hundreds of tons of cocaine to North America. In fact, Russian and Ukrainian syndicates have been swapping weapons for drugs with Colombian drug traffickers, guerrillas and paramilitaries since the early 1990s."

Red Mafiya / Before Bruno,
Americanmafia.com
"Robert I. Friedman’s account of Russian organized crime activity is a stunning, eye opening story of the menace facing United States law enforcement agencies today. The author sets the chilling stage for us by revealing in the first paragraph of his introduction that he has been made the target of a murder contract by the people he is investigating. Friedman does an excellent job of introducing the mobsters, giving a thumbnail background on them, and discussing what they are currently involved in (if they are still living of course). In doing so, Friedman also breaks down the various criminal activities that the Russian mob has taken hold of. Of all the recently released books “Red Mafiya” is the only one that is expose in nature, revealing the enormity of this criminal enterprise to many of us for the first time. “Red Mafiya” is not the first book written on Russian organized crime, “Russian Mafia in America,” by James O. Finckenauer and Elin J. Waring, was published in 1998. Among the Russian mobsters Friedman introduces are Monya Elson, Evsei Agron, Emile Puzyretsky, the Nayfeld brothers, Marat Balagula, the Zilber brothers, Semion Mogilevich, and Vyacheslav Ivankov. While these names are not as familiar to us as those of Gotti, Gambino, Anastasia or the Gallo brothers, these individuals have proven to be just as crafty, if not as deadly, as their Italian counterparts. What surprised me, something I had not released before, is that the majority of these criminals are Jewish."

Indian Court Acquits 2 Israeli Women Convicted of Drug Possession,
Ha'aretz (Israel), May 10, 2002
"A court in India acquitted two young Israel women Thursday who had been convicted of drug possession. Ravit Shriki and Berta Cohen will be released from prison in three days. Shriki and Cohen were arrested about a year ago, carrying a bag containing 2.5 kilograms of marijuana. The women claimed they did not know the bag contained drugs, but were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. The two appealed their conviction. The decision to release them was based, among other things, on the fact that the women were beaten by their prison wardens. The judge also found out that they were given long prison sentences by a court that did not have the authority to do so. Shriki's lawyer, Mordechai Tzibin, said Thursday that the Indian authorities probably took into account the media coverage of the affair and the demands for their release by the Jewish press in the United States."

'Lude Behavior,
City Paper (Philadelphia), October 3-9, 2002
"The 'Matzoh Ball Mafia' is what some police investigators are calling a multistate drug ring which operated in Lower Merion until earlier this month, when 17 people in Miami, New York and Lower Merion were arrested and charged with selling $700,000 worth of Quaaludes. The gang earned its nickname from some cops because a large number of the defendants are Jewish ... [T]he alleged ring leader, Lawrence Weinmann and his chief lieutenant, Neil Smilen, were New Yorkers. Weinmann, investigators claim, was getting some pill shipments from Switzerland ... The two were constantly flying back and forth between Miami and New York City, buying large quantities of Quaaludes and allegedly reselling them to Alan Chernick, a Penn Valley resident. The Montgomery County D.A.'s office alleges that Chernick was a big-time distributor who resold the drugs to other dealers on the Main Line. Chernick has an arrest record and has done state and federal time in prison, according to the indictment. Some of Chernick's associates allegedly involved in the drug ring include: Robert Spear, the owner of several Philadelphia parking garages; Stewart Cohen, a real estate agent; his brother, Fred Cohen, who owns a computer company in Merion; and Craig Ira Yusem, a close friend of Craig Rabinowitz. You may recall that Craig Rabinowitz murdered his wife Stefanie in April 1997. He then tried to disguise her death as an accidental drowning in an attempt to collect a million-dollar life insurance policy that would wipe out his staggering business debts and finance Rabinowitz's clandestine love affair with a Philly stripper who performed under the alias 'Summer' ... 'Most of these guys involved in the lude ring know one another,' a law enforcement source told City Paper last week. 'We call them the Matzoh Ball Mafia. Many of them live in Lower Merion. They come from wealthy Jewish families but wanted to make money the easy way.'"

FED ‘BUG' HELPS NAB DRUG RING,
New York Post, October 10, 2002
"The feds said yesterday they busted three members of an Israeli drug-smuggling ring, derailing a plot to slip 1.4 million 'ecstasy' pills into New York by hiding them in diamond-polishing tables. The scheme began to unravel in August when workers in an Antwerp, Belgium, warehouse spotted two men, Ofer Lebar and Ofer Weizman, putting $42 million in pills into compartments in the tables, which were being stored prior to shipment to New York."

Backpackers warned about strict foreign drug laws,
Ha'aretz (Israel), October 23, 2002
"The War on Drugs Authority is putting a warning booklet on sale cheaply at travel agents outlining the drug laws in 39 countries popular with young Israeli travelers. With examples ranging from India and Thailand to Ecuador and Brazil, the booklet tells in a dry tone what happens to someone caught with drugs in these countries. With drugs ranging from marijuana to cocaine and heroin, there are vast differences between countries in the punishments they mete out for having drugs for personal use and for dealing. Authority chairman Haim Messing says 'on average the Foreign Ministry gets requests to help Israelis in trouble abroad over drugs - we're talking about hundreds of cases a year. We thought it would be appropriate to bring the information about international drug laws to public attention.'"

Bust drug money ring. Say Hasidim laundered 1.7M for Colombian gangs,
New York Daily News, November 2, 2002
"An international money-laundering ring run by New York Hasidim washed millions of dollars in cocaine proceeds for the Colombian cartels, prosecutors disclosed yesterday. The group laundered at least $1.7 million for the druglords, holding secret meetings with the Colombians in Miami and midtown Manhattan, according to papers filed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey. The suspects were brazen - up to $500,000 would be laundered at a time. One of the suspects, Avraham Zaltzman ... Yesterday, FBI and Customs agents arrested Zaltzman and Aaron Bornstein, both of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Bornstein runs an interior design business there, and Zaltzman is a part-time printer who spends most of his time in Israel, officials said. A third man who was believed to be the ringleader, Akiva Apter, remained a fugitive. Three others were named as unindicted co-conspirators. The case came together in April after agents busted one of the co-conspirators - a man who speaks Yiddish and Spanish - and got him to cooperate. The informant agreed to secretly record hundreds of conversations with his partners. He told the agents that between early 2001 and the day they caught him, he had delivered $1.7 million in drug proceeds ... About a half-dozen Hasidim showed up for [Borenstein's] arraignment. His lawyer, Paul Schectman, declined comment, as did prosecutors. Zaltzman was jailed pending a bail hearing next week. He requested a prayer book and prayer shawl while behind bars."

Hassidic link to drugs barons. Ultra Orthodox US Jews accused of 'cleaning' Colombian coke cartel cash,
The Observer (UK), November 10, 2002
"The Observer British and American drug-busting authorities claim to have smashed one of the most bizarre money-laundering services ever operated for Colombian cocaine cartels: a circle of ultra-religious Hassidic Jews in New York. The ring is said to be one of the biggest to be 'cleaning' profits amassed by the Colombian coke barons, with the strange twist that it is run by a group from the Jewish community that acts as moral and spiritual guardian of the Orthodox faith. This is not the first time the Hassidim have been exposed as involved in the big-time drug trade. Last year, the trial ended of a circle run by Sean Erez, a Hassidic who oversaw a massive ecstasy smuggling operation, drawing recruits from the young Orthodox community. In that case, the drug was smuggled in boxes worn either under traditional Hassidic hats or next to the heart, intended to contain prayer scrolls, or else packed into white athletic socks ... [T]he Manhattan District Attorney's office told The Observer that a ringleader is still being sought and that the case may go far wider and deeper than the $1.7 billion [Abraham] Zaltzman and [Aaron] Bornstein are accused of laundering. A warrant is out for the arrest of a third man, Akiva Apter, who remains a fugitive and who sources say might prove to be one of the most important 'cleaners' of drug profits in America ... . Zaltzman spends half his year in Israel ... At their arraignment last week, both men were supported by a small crowd of Hassidim in the public gallery ... The ecstasy smuggling case last year, along with other Hassidic involvements in the drug trade, sent shock waves through the orthodox community, which this case will echo. Erez, a Canadian-Israeli with US residence, recruited young Hassidim to smuggle what they were initially told were diamonds from Amsterdam. Hundreds of thousands of pills and grams of pure MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) were brought in. Arrests of dealers from California to Houston were sourced back to the Hassidic ring ... Wiretaps showed smugglers reluctant to take flights on the Sabbath and one of Erez's agents was picked up in Montreal with a suitcase full of ecstasy because she had refused to take the bus to New York on a Saturday."

Dream trip that turned into an Indian jail nightmare, Briton, 22, held for smuggling hashish after carrying friend's case at airport,
Guardian (UK), January 8, 2003
"She should, by now, have been relaxing on a beach in Australia. But last night Daisy Angus, a 22-year-old British backpacker, was preparing for another night in a squalid Indian cell after her round-the-world trip turned into a nightmare. Ms Angus, from Bournemouth, Dorset, was arrested in Bombay six weeks ago after agreeing to carry a suitcase belonging to an Israeli friend. As she went though customs, Indian officials, to her horror, discovered 10kg (22lb) of hashish hidden in a secret compartment. They immediately arrested Ms Angus, who is now locked up in central Bombay's grim neo-gothic Arthur Road prison. She is likely to be charged with drug smuggling. If convicted, she faces the prospect of 10 years in an Indian jail .. Her co-accused, Israeli businessman Yoran Kadesh, 37, is in the same prison. Indian officials captured him as he attempted to run away from the airport. Ms Angus's father John - who is in Bombay trying to negotiate her release - said she was utterly distraught. She had contracted malaria within a week of her detention in late November, and was now very sick, and sharing a small, filthy cell with 43 other women inmates. 'Whenever I see her in prison she just says: 'Daddy daddy daddy. You can't leave me here'," he said last night. 'This has absolutely destroyed us. It hasn't just affected me but our three other kids and grandchildren. Daisy is not capable of this. The only thing she has ever wanted to do is help people. She has been set up' ... The backpacker, a trainee fitness instructor, spent her early childhood in India when her parents worked for five years as volunteers in Mother Teresa's home for the destitute in Calcutta ... Ms Angus met Mr Kadesh on an earlier trip. She agreed to fly to Amsterdam with him after he told her it was the only way he could pay back money he had borrowed from her. 'Her rucksack broke,' Mrs Angus [mother] said. 'He gave her a suitcase and asked her to put her clothes inside. She put them in and carried on doing her make-up. "He took the suitcase downstairs and a porter took it to the airport. She never realised how heavy the case was ... Her ordeal focuses attention on India's flourishing drug trade - and on the remote Kullu valley in north India, where Mr Kadesh apparently ran a shop with his 41-year-old brother. The beautiful valley is known for its cheap and plentiful supply of hashish - and attracts thousands of backpackers each year. It also has a sinister side. Some 15 western tourists have disappeared there without trace. Indian police have planted drugs on foreigners and demanded large bribes for their release. A powerful Israeli mafia allegedly controls much of the trade. Last month a British charity worker, Ian Stillman, was released from prison early after being convicted in similar circumstances."

Marijuana Mitzvah? Support Growing for 'Guru of Ganja',
[Jewish] Forward, February 14, 2003
"To the federal government, Ed Rosenthal is simply a drug pusher, an enemy combatant in the war on drugs. To folks like Jane Marcus, however, the Bronx-born Rosenthal is a hero — a Jewish hero, in fact, whose cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes qualifies as a life-saving 'mitzvah.' Which explains why delegates to last weekend's regional convention here of Reform Judaism's national synagogue body were seen sporting buttons, distributed by Marcus, in support of Rosenthal, who was found guilty on January 31 of felony charges of cultivating marijuana. The case made national headlines when jurors complained after the trial that they had never been informed that Rosenthal was acting within city and state laws protecting medicinal use of the drug. ... Rosenthal and Klein are members of Temple Sinai in Oakland, where Rabbi Steven Chester said the federal government's prosecution, while legal, was clearly 'immoral.' 'Whether or not one agrees with medical marijuana, the way the whole case was tried was just a travesty,' he said, adding that he would be meeting privately with Rosenthal and Klein to strategize how he and the congregation could show their support ... Rosenthal [is the ] author of numerous books on marijuana cultivation and a longtime columnist for the pro-marijuana magazine High Times ... Now, as his lawyers prepare post-trial motions in advance of his June 4 sentencing, he hopes the Jewish community at large will support him. Rosenthal, who dropped out of college in 1967, had a brief stint as a stock broker before becoming interested in marijuana cultivation and helping launch High Times. His books on growing marijuana have sold at least a million copies, and he and Klein — married for 15 years — now operate Quick Trading, a home-based publishing business offering Rosenthal titles such as 'The Big Book of Buds' and 'Marijuana Law: Don't Get Busted.'"

Feds Bust Israeli-U.S. Money Laundering Ring,
by Anthony M. DeStefano, Newsday, April 1, 2003
"Federal investigators said yesterday they broke up a ring of U.S. and Israeli nationals suspected of laundering millions of dollars in proceeds from trafficking in the drug Ecstasy. A total of 17 people, as well as one Florida company, face charges in the probe, which involved coordination between federal and Israeli law enforcement agencies in the last year. Among those arrested was Natan Banda, the alleged ringleader of the money-laundering network, which federal agents believe has systematically handled tens of millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds. Banda has U.S. and Israeli citizenship and maintains homes in Williamsburg and upstate Monroe, according to the affidavit for the arrest warrant unsealed yesterday. Others charged include the brothers Zakay and Ezra Sasson, identified in the affidavit as being residents of Florida and citizens of the United States, Venezuela and Israel. The Sasson brothers are listed as officers of National Electronics, Inc., a Florida company that sells consumer electronics in Central and South America, according to the affidavit. Federal investigators allege that the Sasson brothers arranged to launder millions of dollars for Banda."

15 Are Accused of Involvement in a Multinational Drug Ring,
by Andy Newman, New York Times, April 1, 2003
"Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said yesterday that they had broken up a multinational ring that laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of cocaine and ecstasy. Fifteen men were arrested yesterday in New York, Miami, Houston and Israel, prosecutors said. Court papers describe an import-export operation with branches in the Netherlands, Colombia, Florida and Texas, and Swiss bank accounts swollen with cash smuggled in and out of the United States in parcels labeled 'jewelry.' The operation was run by Natan Banda, 31, who lives in Brooklyn and in Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic community in Rockland County, N.Y., according to a complaint unsealed yesterday. Drug traffickers would call Mr. Banda on one of two cellphones designated the blue phone and the red phone and arrange to give him money in amounts of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, which he would have converted into numerous small-denomination checks, the court papers say. Mr. Banda and several others were arraigned yesterday in United States District Court in Brooklyn before Magistrate Robert Levy on charges of money-laundering and conspiracy to distribute drugs. The ring members enthusiastically discussed business with one another by telephone, the complaint says. For instance, last June, Mr. Banda received a call from Nathan Weiss, who also was arrested yesterday, asking if certain deposits had cleared. When Mr. Banda confirmed that they had, Mr. Weiss responded, 'Praise the Lord!, It's a great thing!' the complaint says ... The complaint says that Mr. Banda became aware that he was being followed by federal agents and called the local branch of Shomrim, a civilian group that patrols Brooklyn's Hasidic neighborhoods, to complain. He asked the Shomrim official to find out what agency used a car that was following him, but the official declined, the complaint states."

Stories of Recovery. The Debilitating Stigma Behind Addiction,
by Kim Schneiderman, Jewish Times, APRIL 04, 2003
"Jerry Sutton often surprises people when he introduces himself as a recovering alcoholic. According to the old Yiddish expression "a shicker is a goy" (a drunk is a non-Jew), he isn't supposed to exist. But Mr. Sutton, executive director of the House of Hope, certainly does, as do countless other Jewish addicts. Mr. Sutton's experience reflects the historical attitude toward addiction in the Jewish community: denial. Denial is a dangerous word in the addiction vernacular. Addicts in denial have been known to succumb to a host of risky behaviors, all the while insisting they don't have a problem. Just as addicts use denial to ward off feelings of guilt, anxiety and shame, many believe the Jewish people are in denial about the prevalence of addiction, with similar destructive results ... Kim Friner, director of Jewish Addiction Services, spends a great deal of time debunking myths about Jews and addictions. Among them, that Jews are immune to chemical dependency due to such factors as the solidarity of the Jewish community, the ritual use of wine, a moral emphasis on sobriety and fear of engaging in attention-getting behaviors that could provoke anti-Semitism. Having helped literally hundreds of recovering addicts in her 20-year career both within and outside of the Jewish community, she knows all too well that addiction does not discriminate. 'Addiction is a disease and a certain percentage are going to develop the disease just like a certain percentage are going to develop cancer,' said Ms. Friner, who cringes every time she hears the old Yiddish expression 'a shicker is a goy.' A 2001 JACS study set out to describe the demographics of Jews in recovery programs predominantly in the Northeast. The results indicated that Jews not only suffered from alcoholism and other drug addictions, but also disproved assumptions that chemically dependent Jews were somehow less educated, poorer and unaffiliated with the religion or the Jewish community. The study also showed that alcohol was the drug of choice among chemically dependent Jews, followed by sedatives and painkillers. Though not necessarily reflected in the study, a 1986 article in Hadassah Magazine quoted the head of an outpatient addiction program in New York as saying that crack cocaine had become popular among Jewish urban professionals in the 25-40 age group ... Denial may explain why dozens of Baltimore-area churches offer 12-step programs, but comparatively few Jewish organizations do. Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon), Shaarei Zion B'nai Jacob (JACS) and Suburban Orthodox (Narcotics Anonymous) are the only Jewish organizations to host 12-step meetings ... Despite the lack of 12-step meetings, Susan Kurlander, director of prevention services at Jewish Addiction Services, reports being flooded with calls from schools and organizations for drug and alcohol education services ... Why the denial? Abbey Millhauser, who has run groups for Jewish women, suggests the stigma associated with chemical dependency conflicts with the idealism and cultural stereotypes associated with being Jewish ... Marc Rosenbluth, executive director of Mid-Atlantic JACS, argued that stigmatization and denial also applies to other addictions such as gambling and overeating, which are rampant in the Jewish community. Whatever the dependence, stigma against addiction is dangerous because it can impede both diagnosis and treatment."

Israelis at center of ecstasy drug trade,
by Nathan Guttman, Haaretz (Israel), April 6, 2003
"Israel is at the center of international trade in the drug ecstasy, according to a document published last week by the U.S. State Department. In recent years, organized crime in Israel, some with links to criminal organizations in Russia, have come to control the distribution of the drug in Europe, according to a Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs document. The same document also points out that Israeli criminal groups have a hand in the distribution of ecstasy in North America. During 2000, 80 percent of the ecstasy seized in North America originated in the Netherlands, which is the largest production center, along with Belgium and Poland. The State Department is certain that Israeli organizations are linked to the laboratories in the Netherlands and are responsible for the worldwide distribution. 'Israeli drug distribution organizations are currently the main source for distribution of the drug to groups inside the U.S., to smuggling through express mail services, through couriers on commercial flights and, recently, through air cargo,' states the report."


See Also: More Drugs, etc.

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