updated 5/24/2006 8:22:18 PM ET 2006-05-25T00:22:18

An Israeli identified by federal prosecutors as one of the world’s biggest distributors of Ecstasy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges that could put him in prison for four decades.

Zeev Rosenstein, 51, entered the plea nearly three months after he was extradited from Israel to face charges that he conspired to distribute more than 1 million Ecstasy pills in the United States between summer 1999 and November 2001.

Rosenstein, dressed in a tan jailhouse outfit, said “not guilty, your honor” through a Hebrew translator when asked for a plea by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer. No trial date has been set.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts in his drug indictment. His Ecstasy network allegedly spanned four continents and used Latin American smugglers to bring the drug into the United States.

Rosenstein is being held on $10 million bond. His attorney, Howard Srebnick, said Rosenstein is currently unable to make bail despite having significant financial resources around the world.

Rosenstein, who was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of 44 top worldwide drug traffickers, was arrested in Israel more than a year ago. He is allegedly one of Israel’s most powerful organized crime figures, although he has largely escaped prosecution until now.

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that can induce euphoria, increased energy and sexual arousal. It also often suppresses appetite, thirst and the need to sleep, and in high doses can cause health problems and even death.

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